Sunday, June 04, 2006

On the code (2)

Due to the universally tepid review — IMDB gives it only 6.5 for example — we have decided to wait for the DVD release of The Da Vinci Code. That means that the original plan of following up the review of the book with one of the movie is now on hold indefinitely.

Then I thought I would compare the way devout Christians reacted to the movie/book that says their religion is a lie with the way devout Muslims react to any less-than-glorifying portrait of their prophet. For example, no one seems to be burning the effigy of Tom Hanks, and no one has put a bounty on Dan Brown. This point can be stressed with a lot more polemics. But when all is said and done, what is new in saying that there are many, many illiberal forces in the Muslim world? But I think it is still an important observation to make — there are many, many illiberal forces in the Muslim world.

But then this got me thinking. What do these illiberal forces have to say about this book? After all, claiming that Jesus lived a family life and grew old contradicts Islam. Here is what The Quran says (4:157-8):
And because of their saying (in boast), ‘We killed Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah, but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not.

But Allah raised him up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is omnipotent, omniscient.

Clearly Dan Brown and Tom Hanks and Ron Howard have committed grave blasphemies. So where is the fire and brimstone Jihadi reaction? Anyway, I googled ‘Muslim protest Da Vinci Code’. It seems that there were protests in that deep heartland of Muslim world — Azerbaijan. Hmmm, perhaps this is a sign that the illiberal tendencies in the Muslim world are waning. Maybe, but I don’t think a heterodox book on Muhammad is going to find many publishers.

Oh, there were lot of protests in Desh. In Pakistan, the Islam-pasand parties marched on the streets. And in India, Muslims joined Christians against the movie. Maybe Desi Muslims are more religious than their non-Desi co-religionists. Or maybe this was just another manifestation of Amar-Akbar-Anthony style Desi fraternity.

And speaking of Desi fraternity, the Indian Minister of Information — an aside, do any other liberal democracy have this Orwellian official? — took it upon himself to see whether Indian Christians needed to be protected from this heresy, and I understand the movie is banned in half a dozen Indian states (details here and here). So it seems that the great secular tradition that begun with the banning of The Satanic Verses (India was the first country to do so) continues. Long live the Secular Democratic Republic of India.