One of the foundational principles of free and democratic nations is that the rights of minority groups must be protected and respected.
My best friend in India, where I spent two years of my boyhood, retired a year or two ago from service as a justice on India's Supreme Court and now is chairman of the Press Council of India. Markandey Katju (pictured here) also writes a blog about legal and national matters.
It was on that blog the other day that I was pleased to see Markandey tackle the question of protection of the religious rights of minorities, especially given that he is not what you'd call a religious man.
On that blog entry, he made the point succinctly:
"It is the duty of the majority in every specific area to ensure that the minority lives with dignity and respect."
What this means for Americans is that we cannot leave it solely up to government to make sure the rights of minorities are protected. We ourselves must be advocates for those rights and we must intervene in appropriate and legal ways when we find minorities' rights in jeopardy.
Markandey Katju has it right.
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PILGRIMS FROM DISTANT LANDS
Because of Pope Francis, Rome is experiencing a boom in tourism, especially from South America, it's reported. In a world of equal opportunity, South Americans in Rome, too, should have the experience of having airlines lose their luggage.
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column -- an open letter to Pope Francis about Bishop Robert Finn -- now is online. To read it, click here.