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We are slaves of various labels that we get at birth like our religion, our country, our state, etc.
Satbir Singh Bedi | 24 Aug 2013

An Englishman has raised a very pertinent question
which in my view is-whether we should consider
ourselves as human beings and hence internationalists
or we should be nationalist or we should be communal
or we should be faithful to our state or region rather
than our country?  Now, when I was born, perhaps I was
born as an internationalist and a human being but my
parents who were responsible for my birth immediately
labelled me as an Indian, as a Sikh, as a North Indian
and as a Punjabi as soon as I was born.  Now I can
change these labels if some country other than India
grants me its citizenship, if I convert to a religion
other than Sikh religion and the tag North Indian and
Punjabi would of course become redundant if I change
my country.  However, since right from my birth, I
became accustomed to having these tags or labels, I
have not been able to change even a single label.  Of
course, one label which I or you cannot change is that
of being a human and an internationalist.
 
However, the label indicating a person's religion
sticks him most followed by his country. When a Danish
cartoonist brought out a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad,
the founder of the religion "Islam", all those people
who were wearing the label "Muslim" became furious and
some right thinking persons including myself also felt
that the Danish Cartoonist had no right to bring out a
cartoon of Prophet Mohd. to hurt the Muslims when he
was free to bring out cartoons of thousands of other
people.  I, of course, do not feel the same way when a
Muslim, Taslima Nasreen wants to reform her religion
and all the Muslims become thirsty for her blood.  The
reason is that no religion is perfect and although
every religion was a revolutionary idea at the time of
its birth, it needs reformation in view of the
changing times.  Then some people with liberal views
feel that late M.F. Hussain, a Muslim had also right to
paint nude picture of Hindu Gods and Goddesses,
particularly when so many temples of Hindus contain
nude sculptures of various Gods and Goddesses. 
However, it is debatable whether a person who does not
belong to Hindu religion has a right to paint nude
pictures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses even though in
the past Hindu sculptures had brought out nude
sculptures of these Gods and Goddesses.
 
Now, the place of birth of the religion has also
special significance for the persons of the concerned
religion so that I have seen many non-Arab Muslims
like Pakistani and Indian Muslims etc. praising Arabs.
 Even Muslims who had adopted countries of Europe and
USA, Canada, etc. as their homelands want to enforce
their personal laws and want to see to it that veil is
recognized as a special clothing for Muslim Women. 
Similarly, Sikhs who had also adopted these countries
as their homelands, want to enjoy the privilege of
wearing a sword, etc. 
 
The latest thing is that the Hindus, particularly
Tamilian Hindus of the South have raised a hue and cry
over the treatment meted out to Malaysian of Hindu
descent by the majority Muslim population as well as
the Government.  So, the question arises whether
religion is more important label than nationality and
whether Hindus of India can interfere in the affairs
of Hindus of other nationalities.  In my opinion, the
answer is "no" because when a person adopts a country
other than that to which his forefathers belonged then
he must submit to the laws of the adopted country
otherwise there would be total chaos.  Hence Muslims
and Sikhs who had adopted the countries of Europe and
America etc. must submit to the laws of their adopted
countries and do not insist on women wearing veils
being allowed in schools and colleges and men carrying
swords, etc.
 
As far as atheists are concerned, they have only one
tag and that is of being a human being and an
internationalist but then people like me do have
affections for their various tags or labels and are
not prepared to leave their country of origin although
they profess to have international views also.