Human rights: who isn't entitled to it?
Friday, August 29, 2008
On the editorial column of the last edition of the Daily Observer, we discussed the relationship between the profession of journalism and sedition. That was clearly a subject with close correlations with all the talk about human rights, women's rights, children's rights, the right to free press, freedom of expression, lock, stock and barrel. On this edition of the column, we amplify the question: who is entitled to all these rights and who isn't?
Human rights, a concept that is as old as creation itself, is a topical issue these days, especially among rights groups around the world. As controversial as it sometimes turns out to be (for it serves as a ticket for destabilization of society), there has never been a moment when anybody denied the fact that there is the need for its observance. The bone of contention has always been who is at fault, and also who is entitled to it, although this is hardly a subject of discussion.
From a religious point of view, the Almighty Allah's creation of man took into account special provisions for the preservation of his sanctity. This is spelled out in no uncertain terms in the Holy Scriptures - the Qur'an and the Bible. Among the greatest sins in the eyes of God is unlawfully taking the life of another human being.
And there is also this widely held belief that God can easily forgive man for sins he commits against Him [God] and not for those he commits against other human beings. All these deep-rooted beliefs are fundamental in the teachings of Islam, and there is every reason to believe that the same thing is true for the Christian faith; and they all go to show how aged the idea of human rights is.
In this contemporary world, however, when mention is made of the topic, it is some perceived 'underprivileged' group of people that are being defended, and, in most cases, against one form of political persecution or the other. The issue has become so much diluted that the rights of a significant chunk of society seems totally neglected.
The so-called influential figures in society are now at the mercy of the less influential. It appears today that it is no longer wrong to tarnish the image of an individual, hitherto respectable in society, but it is wrong to mete out a particular punishment on someone who is clearly found wanting by the law.
These are all issues that form part of the persistent problems our world is going through. And until we fix them, we can hardly have the peace we so much need to forge ahead.