Tuesday, May 23, 2006

DaVinci Code reaches the Middle East (well, almost)

The movie DaVinci Code has catapulted to the top of the charts, as religious controversy and big names draw people to see the movie for themselves.

The Catholic Church has condemned it, Christian groups are boycotting it, and it has been banned in a number of Arab countries.

I think I would like Divinci Code and Temptation of Christ if I read them, and one of my favorite all time films is the Life of Brian, a parody on the life of Jesus and a biting satire on religion, particularly Christianity.

I've seen a number of people here criticizing the banning of the movie DaVinci Code, and I agree with them. I don't think controversial books and movies should be banned, but should be discussed. I think governments here banned the movie to show the West that they are sensitive to their Christian minorities, and perhaps minorities that feel embattled deserve special sensitivity sometimes.

But it's funny how often religious authorities only care about their own heresies. I haven't seen the Catholic Church ever condemn Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses. I don't see al-Azhar condeming the DaVinci Code. Most religions are only senstive about their own doctrines, but could care less about the sensitivties of their rivals. Hypocrisy bothers me.

But I have a lot of questions as I follow the debates on the issue. What would happen if there was a DaVinci code-type book written that questioned the authenticity of the Quran? Or a satire on the life ofthe Prophet or the Companions? Or a movie that made fun of the Hajj or hijab, for example?

What if such works were produced by a westerner? What if such works were produced by an Arab? Does it matter?

Is there a difference between The DaVinci Code andSalman Rushdie's Satanic Verses? Do religious minorities deserve special sensitivity on these kinds of issues? Do religious majorities deserve special sensitivity?

I'm someone who doesn't trust any centers of power, and sees all religions, especially religious orthodoxy, as one of the most powerful and dangerous centers of power in any society, one that should always be criticized and analyzed constantly to be kept in check. I'm not anti-religion, but i don't trust religious authority or authorities.

I hope to see more such books and movies questioning the basic assumptions that religions are founded on. I hope they are controversial each time, and provoke wide-ranging discussion and debate (no riots, please). It's the only way to keep religious authority and the power of religion on it's heels, and off our necks.


Post a Comment

<< Home