|Picture from See It Through My Eyes|
Russian MPs have given initial approval to an anti-blasphemy law with tougher jail terms or fines for anyone found guilty of offending religious feelings... The bill says blasphemy could incur up to three years in jail or a fine of up to 300,000 roubles ($9,700;£6,300). (BBC News)
The anti-blasphemy law passed by the lower house of the Russian parliament is making headlines these days. This may remind us of what Iqbal wrote long ago, at a time when Russia was the stronghold of Bolshevism and a role model for the atheists. In an open letter to the British author Sir Francis Younghusband, published in The Civil and Military Gazette on July 30, 1931, Iqbal wrote:
I do not myself believe that the Russians are by nature an irreligious people. On the contrary, I think that they are men and women of strong religious tendencies and the present negative state of [the] Russian mind will not last indefinitely, for no system of society can rest on an atheistic basis. As soon as things settle down in that country and its people have time to think calmly, they will be forced to find a positive foundation for their system.
Whether or not the present anti-blasphemy law is a step towards "a positive foundation" for the Russian system, the bill contains a reference to religions that are "an integral part of Russia's historical inheritance" (i.e. Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism). Indirectly, this assertion corroborates Iqbal's basic assertion that Russians are "men and women of strong religious tendencies".