Stand by Taslima Nasreen

Posted in Broader Middle East , India | 26-Nov-07 | Author: Judith Apter Klinghoffer| Source: History News Network

Forget the 13 dead lawyers in Uttar Pradesh blasts. No big deal. Their relatives will be compensated. They certainly cannot be allowed to damage the well entrenched Islamists leftist alliance ruling India. At the moment that alliance is working hard to punish Taslima Nasreen, the author of the "fictional" account of the persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh, Lajja-Shame. Yes, you guessed. Islamist clerics issued a fatwa against her. Any Muslims choosing to kill her would go to paradise. Nasreen escaped her homeland. Kapchan Gupta picks up the story:

Feted by Kolkata's intellectuals, Ms Nasreen decided to shift to West Bengal and was granted a one-year visa in September 2005. But before that, she had run into trouble with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who, despite his pretensions of being a writer and a Marxist, gave in without a fight and banned her autobiographical book, Dwikhondito, in November 2003 because it had references to the perversion of Islam by those who use religion to perpetuate their twisted notions of a Muslim woman's place in society.

Another book, Aamar Meyebela, also ran into trouble and was promptly banned in Bangladesh. The publishers of Dwikhondito went to court and appealed against the ban. The Calcutta High Court declared the ban was "untenable" and "unjustifiable" in September 2005. Dwikhondito reappeared in bookshops and became an instant bestseller, not least because it rips off many a 'secular' and 'progressive' mask.

On August 10 this year, when Ms Nasreen visited Hyderabad for the launch of her translated works, she was set upon by leaders of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen who insisted that she should be handed over to them so that they could punish her for her 'sins'. She escaped the lynching but the incident showed that fanatics had put in motion a plan to hound her out of India.

Last Wednesday's riots in central Kolkata when murderous mobs owing allegiance to All-India Minority Forum, headed by Mr Idris Ali, a Congress leader, demanded that she be thrown out of the country, are part of this devious plan whose ultimate goal is to demonstrate the might of radical Islamism in 'secular' India. Mr Biman Bose, chairman of the Left Front and a member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau who loves to be portrayed in media as a remorseless, cold-blooded commissar, wilted in the face of Muslim fury and ensured Ms Nasreen's eviction from Kolkata and West Bengal. Since then, she has been on the run, first seeking shelter in Jaipur and then in Rajasthan House in Delhi.

Tasmila Nasreen is begging to be permitted to return to Kolkata:

I am a Bengali and Bengal is my home and feel at home in Kolkata, I know I am loved by the people there," Taslima said over phone from New Delhi.

"What are the people of Kolkata saying? What are the intellectuals saying?" she asked on the demand for cancellation of her visa by certain Muslim groups.

"I am not a political person. I am an ordinary human being who writes for equal rights. I don't write about religion, I write about human rights, women rights and secular humanism," she said.

As the Communist rule of West Bengal depends on Muslim support, Indian papers predict that her plea will fall on death ears. Instead, India Times predicts Left, UPA dump Taslima to keep Muslim vote bank intact.

After all, this is the company she keeps-

Top: Demonstrators in Pakistan protest the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish periodical.
Top: Demonstrators in Pakistan protest the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish periodical.
Bottom: From l: Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen, Irshad Manji, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Bernard-Henri Levy and Mehdi Mozaffari (they all signed the DISSENT posted bellow)

There is only one way to stand by Taslima and that is by shining the international limelight the Indian government's cowardly behavior in the hope of shaming it.

It is the least we can do!

At the time of the Cartoon Controversy they signed the following DISSENT. It could not be more relevant today:

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global totalitarian threat: Islamism.

We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

Recent events, prompted by the publication of drawings of Muhammad in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values.

This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field.

It is not a clash of civilizations nor an antagonism between West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarian ideologies, Islamism is nurtured by fear and frustration.

Preachers of hatred play on these feelings to build the forces with which they can impose a world where liberty is crushed and inequality reigns.

But we say this, loud and clear: nothing, not even despair, justifies choosing darkness, totalitarianism and hatred.

Signatories of the statement: Salman Rushdie, Indian-born British writer with fatwa issued ordering his execution for “The Satanic Verses”; Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somali-born Dutch MP; Taslima Nasreen, exiled Bangladeshi writer, with fatwa issued ordering her execution; Bernard-Henri Levy, French philosopher; Chahla Chafiq, Iranian writer exiled in France; Caroline Fourest, French writer; Irshad Manji, Ugandan refugee and writer living in Canada; Mehdi Mozaffari, Iranian academic exiled in Denmark; Maryam Namazie, Iranian writer living in Britain; Antoine Sfeir, director of French review examining Middle East; Ibn Warraq, U.S. academic of Indian/Pakistani origin; Philippe Val, director of Charlie Hebdo

Islamism is a reactionary ideology that kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present.

Its victory can only lead to a world of injustice and domination: men over women, fundamentalists over others.

On the contrary, we must ensure access to universal rights for the oppressed or those discriminated against.


We reject the “cultural relativism” which implies an acceptance that men and women of Muslim culture are deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secularism in the name of the respect for certain cultures and traditions.

We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of “Islamophobia,” a wretched concept that confuses criticism of Islam as a religion and stigmatization of those who believe in it.

We defend the universality of the freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit can exist in every continent, towards each and every maltreatment and dogma.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits in every country that our century may be one of light and not dark.

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