Monday, January 07, 2008

Killing a man because of his convictions

"Tuer un homme, ce n’est pas défendre une doctrine, c’est tuer un homme" ("Killing a man is not defending a doctrine, it is killing a man") (Sebastian Castellio, 1515-1563). When Castellio said these words he criticized Calvin who justified the burning on the stake of Michael Servet because of heresy. However, this statement has lost nothing of its value since then and it is very relevant to our times. When one looks around in the world, it still happens very often that people are killed because of or in the name of a religious belief or a political doctrine. If one thinks of religion, one need only think of the suicide attacks by Muslim fundamentalists; the murders of doctors who have performed abortions by fanatical Christians in the United States; or the killings of Muslims by zealous Hindus in India. And are the tortures by American soldiers in Iraq of a different kind? Or what to think of Guantanamo? Isn´t it so that the human rights apply to everybody, also to whom you don´t agree with, how extreme the differences between you and your opponent may be? Isn’t that the essence of human rights? Here also a word by Montaigne is applicable: "N’y avoir qu’une justice", there is only one justice.

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