Taslima Nasrin

Literature, Politics

See Dilip D’Souza’s post on the latest attack on Taslima Nasrin. As usual religious sentiments have been hurt” is being handed out as so much stale mithai, and as Dilip points out, it has an eery resemblance to recent events in Baroda. This shameful episode is rightly being condemned widely, however, with certain qualifiers:

The government should immediately cancel her visa and make her go out of the country,” he said adding, she should realise that this is not Bangladesh or Pakistan, but India where the sentiments of all communities are respected”.(Delhi Minorities Commission Chairperson Kamal Farooqui)

And further:

No doubt Taslima Nasrin’s penchant to flirt with the religious sentiment of the Islamic community and her outright defense of right to indulge in sex outside marriage is not less outrageous as such ideas in print form only contribute to pollute the purity of the general mind to a larger extent.

Taslima Nasrin makes everybody uncomfortable. There are those who are complaining that secularists have double standards because they are not doing dharnas.” Which, as Amardeep points out doesn’t seem to be completely true. And others who are annoyed with her because it makes Muslims look bad in the eyes of the West (look what you are making the crazy mullahs do, stop writing this sh!t already) because:

If Taslima is all about this major literary voice being stilled, why is it that very little analysis is being done of her writings? Why is she always in the news for a perspective other than one of literary or ethical significance? Even when she wrote an autobiographical account in which several writers and political figures were mentioned, not for their role in damaging society but for sleeping with her, she was harping on freedom of speech.

A former professor, Shohini Ghosh, has an article, Censorship Myths and Imagined Harms (its a pdf download) in the Sarai Reader. The article was written in response to the West Bengal Government’s ban on Nasrin’s autobiography in 2003, and is about the critical overlap between hate speech and sexual speech.” She points out how Taslima’s writing are neither traditionally feminine nor desirable by Bengali canonical standards.” And how, too much sexual agency deserves to be punished.” It points out how sexual stigma is used in hate campaigns. It leaves one with a chilling sense of the implications of these various forms of moral policing that are being advocated.