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And now, Controversy over the flame of hope
By Behindwoods News Bureau.
April 02, 2008

There are only few things that have been untouched by the stains of controversy over the years. One among them has been the Olympic flame that goes around the world, cutting across oceans, mountains and rivers, spreading the message of unity and generally reminding people that we are all one. Olympics is a celebration of the spirit of humanity. It

Aamir Khan

is sad that now even the Olympic flame has become a bit of a talking point over an issue that has been a major concern over the past couple of weeks. Though not completely aware about the situation in Tibet, we know well that whatever has been happening there is violent and a blatant violation of human rights that cannot be justified. We don’t need to provide you with more details than all that you have been seeing through the media. Even the Dalai Lama’s words have failed to calm the situation down, and none of us are in a position to comment on what has to be done.

However, our immediate concern is the Olympic torch and the debate that it has been dragged into. Many of you might be aware that the flame is slated to pass through India. And among the celebrities who have been chosen to bear the torch are Baichung Bhutia, one of India’s most successful footballers over the years. Bhutia withdrew from the Olympic torch rally recently stating that it was his personal way of showing solidarity to the suffering people of Tibet. Now, we cannot question his personal choices or the reason that he has cited. He has been very categorical in stating that the decision was not coerced by any body or person and that it was just his way of expressing his solidarity. This has started a minor discussion rolling in some circles and the spotlight has turned onto the other celebrities slated to bear the torch. The bulk of it is predictably falling on the most famous of them all, Aamir Khan.

Aamir personally wrote in his blog that he has been receiving requests from varying quarters to abstain from bearing the torch. Replying to them on his blog, he said that the Olympics did not belong to China. The Olympics belonged to all the people around the world who believed in peace and unity. It is only incidental that this year’s Olympic games are set to happen in Beijing and that carrying the torch by no means meant that the bearer was supporting the Chinese activities in Tibet and in fact he too felt deeply for the people who were suffering.

The point here is exactly what Aamir said. Bhutia’s decision to boycott the relay that carries the flame to Beijing must be seen only as a personal decision and not as a precedent that has to be followed by others. Every one has their own way of expressing themselves and associating with the Olympic torch (one of the most strongest symbols of hope of a united peaceful world) must not be seen as an endorsement of all Chinese activities. The Olympics, representing all forms of sports and art, including cinema, must never be mixed with politics and disputes. After all sports and art are one of the very few things that don’t recognize political borders.

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