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A Viral Video Shows A Burqa-Clad Woman From Bahrain Smashing Idols Of Lord Ganesha. Why Is There So Much Intolerance?

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I know a lot of people don’t see it this way but this world is a secular place. People all around the globe follow different religions and still co-exist in harmony together. I believe that there is no one religion better or more powerful than the rest. It’s not a competition, after all. It’s about living in peace and spreading love no matter which God you bow your head before. 

I have never been a religious person. I don’t follow the rules of my religion (I am a Jain, there are too many) but I would never discourage someone else from following theirs. When it comes to religion and beliefs the motto is – to each its own. Besides, you can be a Christian by birth and still pray to Lord Ganesha and recite the Hanuman Chalisa, it’s a personal choice at the end of the day. Although I am afraid, there are a lot of people in the world that don’t believe or understand this concept. And sometimes, in an attempt to put another religion down, they end up doing something extremely disrespectful and offending all the people of that faith. 

Today, I am talking about an incident just like that, which has achieved virality on social media. Recently, a video came to light that showed two Burqa-clad women smashing Ganesha Idols in a shop. As I said, I am not a religious person but this video made me so sad. 

After the video showed the women “intentionally damaging a shop… and breaking religious idols,” the authorities of Bahrain started a legal probe into the matter. The incident took place at a shopping mall in the Juffair area of the Bahrain capital, Manama. 

In the video, two women are seen standing in a shop that sells idols of Lord Ganesha. One of those women yelled out to the shopkeeper and then started throwing the idols to the ground one by one. You can also hear her saying something in Arabic, presumably. Reports say that the woman said, “Let us see who will worship these statues, call the cops” and “this is a Muslim country.” Whatever happened to living in peace and harmony?

Once the video started garnering tons of social media glare, the Ministry of Interior said in a tweet that the 54-year-old woman has been referred to the public prosecutor. The tweet read, “Capital Police took legal steps against a woman, 54, for damaging a shop in Juffair and defaming a sect and its rituals, in order to refer her to the Public Prosecution.” 

The woman has been charged with criminal damage and publically insulting a religious symbol. The public prosecutor also released a statement saying that she had confessed to breaking those idols and that now she will be tried in court. 

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When I watched the video, only one question came to mind – why was that woman so bothered by those Ganesha idols? They weren’t bothering her in any way. Agreed, Bahrain is primarily a Muslim country but why does that have to mean that anything related to other religions should be barred? Why can’t we be a little more tolerant and respectful of other beliefs? 

In fact, while doing some research, I stumbled upon the fact that Indians make up 9.8% of the population in Bahrain, according to the 2010 census. We are the largest expatriate in Bahrain. So, I ask again, what was the point of all that intolerance? 

A little while after the public prosecutor made the statement about the woman, Khalid al-Khalifa, the advisor to the king of Bahrain and former foreign minister, took to Twitter to condemn the actions of the woman. He tweeted saying, “Breaking of religious symbols is not the nature of the people of Bahrain. It is a crime of hatred and is rejected. Here, all religions, sects and people coexist.” 

Well, the actions don’t match his words but we aren’t ones to generalize. 

Needless to say, people on social media were extremely irked by this act of disrespect. Thousands of people in our country follow Lord Ganesha and watching someone break the idols we care for day in and day out during Ganesh Chaturthi, which is just around the corner, is more than hurtful. We are glad that authorities in Baharain took such swift action but it’s not going to change the fact that religious intolerance is a larger, more convoluted issue than shown in this video. 

The bottom line is that the world is going through some very hard times right now. You know, since we are caught in the grasps of a deadly virus. So, instead of spreading negativity, hate and intolerance, can we try being nice and respectful to one another? Just a suggestion.

 

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