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ASK VIR All your questions answered by Vir Sanghvi

Question

Hi Vir, You retweeted the Charlie Hebdo coverpage and said that we should retweet this to show to the fanatics that the attack will not scare anyone, you got a lot of backlash on twitter for your retweet, and i supported you on twitter when people trolled you at that time. I'm not saying what you did was wrong or that cover page cartoon was wrong, however I'm also not sure if it was a good idea. The only way things can change is if conservative Muslims are made to understand that those cartoonists are not disrespecting their religion and those cartoons are only a medium of communication and that people can chose not to follow what Islam says( i admit I don't know how any of this can be done). I'm not sure if going on the offensive would be

Posted By: Tom  |  Posted On: 21 Jan 2015  |  City: Bangalore

Answer

 I agree with you on many of the points that you have raised. But my intent was simple: they killed the Charlie Hebdo journalists for publishing the cartoon. If all of us also published it or put it on social media, then our message to the terrorists would be simple: how many people will you kill? You can't kill all of us. 
 

Question

Hi Vir, During the same time when Paris was attacked, Nigeria was also attacked by Boko Haram and thousands of people were killed there. Both attacks happened around the same time and both were terrorist attacks and both were horrible.However, I had a feeling that more focus from mainstream media and social media was towards the Paris attack. Why do you think was this the case? Why was much attention not given to Nigeria attack?

Posted By: Tom  |  Posted On: 21 Jan 2015  |  City: Bangalore

Answer

 Because it was difficult to get information about the Boko Haram massacre. Even in Nigeria, the event was played down. The President of Nigeria did not even issue a condemnation in the immediate aftermath. 
 
It is easy to make vague generalisations about the bias of the media. But you should look at the facts and the circumstances. 
 

Question

Hi Vir,
Why India is not sending troops to fight ISIS? We hear now and then how bravely Indians fought in WWI and WWII to defeat forces opposed to the Brits. Why we are laggards when it comes to forces opposed to India like IS? IS is not only opposed to Yazidis and Christians but all non-Muslims, I hear? Is there some policy decision not to send forces to fight against Islamic forces?

Posted By: Vivek L Dev  |  Posted On: 21 Jan 2015  |  City: Mumbai

Answer

 India will be the next target of ISIS. Instead of getting involved in other people's wars against ISIS and doing the dirty work of the Americans who are too frightened to put boots on the ground in this battle, we should take steps to protect ourselves. 

Question

Isn't Kiran Bedi's Anointment BJP's political master stroke. Do you agree with me that the BJP has left the AAP with very little time to come up with a strategy to counter her.

Posted By: Manish Sharma  |  Posted On: 20 Jan 2015  |  City: Mumbai

Answer

 Perhaps. But if you watch TV these days, it does not seem like a master stroke. 

Question

I have two Counter Questions:-
Counter Question to Islamists/Jihadists - If the charlie hebdo cartoonists really offended you then why dont they leave the Judgement of their acts to God. I mean is God so weak that these Islamists need to wield a Gun to Punish the cartoonists?
Counter Question to Liberals :- If mocking religion or prophets is Freedom of Speech, then where is this freedom protected if someone makes a racist Cartoon? Why is this freedom not protected?

Posted By: Anirudh  |  Posted On: 19 Jan 2015  |  City: New Delhi   |   Comments:(1)

Answer

 First point is an interesting one. The second one is subtle. The law says - or at least it does in many liberal countries - that if somebody abuses you and calls you a dirty Hindu or a despicable nigger, this is actionable. However, if a cartoonist or an author portrays, say, Jesus Christ or Abraham Lincoln, in an unflattering light, his freedom of speech is protected. 
 
The distinction is between abuse and abstract portrays that believers may find offensive. 
 

Question

Hi Vir, just read your article 'Final lessons from Charlie Hebdo'. Easily the finest political piece I have read for a long time. It resonates with me deeply. On topic of being liberal, do you think being liberal and secular has become a bad thing in India today (well thats what BJPs social media army has made us believe)? Why is that some one who is secular considered to be weak these days? Are seculars and liberals facing an image problem?

Posted By: sanjeet uchil  |  Posted On: 19 Jan 2015  |  City: Mumbai

Answer

 Yes, we are. But only because we have not reclaimed our own space. Instead, we cower each time bigots and fascists use secular or liberal as a term of abuse. We should remind them that India has survived because of liberalism and secularism. 

Question

Dear Mr. Sanghvi, while I appreciate and agree to a large extent to your views on freedom of speech and expression, and certainly the sentiment that groups cannot override individual freedom of speech, I do continue to believe that it cannot be absolute, at least practically. For example, there are many disgusting men on Indian roads who pass lewd comments on women. Going by the logic that freedom of speech should be absolute, such men would have been perfectly well within their rights to make despicable comments on women and if the women are offended, so be it? But certainly we all (largely right thinking people as I would imagine) disagree with such people and such incidents. We saw most media channels praising the two ‘Rohtak sisters’ fo

Posted By: Seth  |  Posted On: 19 Jan 2015  |  City: Delhi

Answer

 Nobody says that freedom of speech includes the freedom to make threats. This is a well-established principle in criminal law. This is not part of the debate. 
 

Question

and to add to my last question.. If you rejoice freedom of expression and speech, you cant ban the burqa.. Whats ur take on Frances position on that ?

Posted By: Ash  |  Posted On: 15 Jan 2015  |  City: Sydney

Answer

 The burqa is not, as far as I know, a statement. So, it has nothing to do with freedom of speech and expression. Besides it is a myth that France has banned the hijab. Walk through the centre of Paris and you will see many women in hijab. What France has banned is the niqab, the face veil, and that too, only in public places. There is a larger ban of wearing of any face coverings in public places also in operation. The concern is with security. And as the Charlie Hebdo attack demonstrates, they are right to have some concerns. 
 

Question

Hi Vir,
Saw your article on Freedom of Speech. I do agree with the concept of freedom of speech but with that also comes great responsibility. What the parisians did was antagonize, they knowingly choose to mock and humiliate someones faith. You wouldnt call a black man a nigger, its unbecoming of a civil human being, why take up for a cartoonist....

Posted By: Ash  |  Posted On: 15 Jan 2015  |  City: Sydney

Answer

 There's a difference between civility and the law. Yes, we should all be civil to each other and respect each other's faiths. But we cannot use the law to enforce this respect. I may disapprove of what the cartoonists did but there is no doubt that they had a right to do it. 

Question

After Paris, as expected, i see some loony and some sensible comments on Ask Vir. However, I am more interested in knowing how would we respond in such a situation for e.g. if it happens in India. In boston, paris and other such western places I get amazed to see the response of not just the public but of the tactical teams. Can you imagine complete shutdown of large parts of Delhi the way it happened in boston to catch the culprits? Do we have a plan, and power and intelligence to face it? Has anything changed since bombay?

Posted By: cheetos  |  Posted On: 14 Jan 2015  |  City: DC

Answer

 Short answer: no. Lots of talk, no action. 

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