Monday, December 24, 2007

this woman is seeking refuge in this nation in the most poignant terms: but the dhimmis will not listen

dec 24th, 2007

are we a nation? are we a civilization? if so, when a woman with a death threat hanging over her seeks refuge, we need to welcome her with open arms.

as far as a) manmohan singh and the kaangress, b) the communists, c) the christists in the media are concerned, there is no greater purpose in life than genuflecting to mohammedan obscurantism.

this is not the nation that our forebears shed their blood for. this is not india, which welcomed the huddled masses with open arms for millennia.

the so-called india that we see today is an abhasam, a perversion of the idea of india, the greatest civilization in history.

and it is squarely the fault of that fool nehru. it's absolutely amazing how much damage one idiot can cause.

Taslima Nasreen
23 Dec 07

In an exclusive, Taslima Nasreen recounts her origins, her longing to
belong and the will to face opposition to her place in the scheme of

ALTHOUGH I was not born an Indian, there is very little about my
appearance, my tastes, my habits and my traditions to distinguish me
from a daughter of the soil. Had I been born some years earlier than I
was, I would have been an Indian in every sense of the term. My father
was born before Partition; the strange history of this subcontinent made
him a citizen of three states, his daughter a national of two. In a
village in what was then East Bengal, there once lived a poor farmer by
the name of Haradhan Sarkar, one of whose sons, Komol, driven to fury by
zamindari oppression, converted to Islam and became Kamal. I belong to
this family.

Haradhan Sarkar was my great-grandfather's father. Haradhan's other
descendants obviously moved to India either during or after Partition
and became citizens of this country. My grandfather, a Muslim, did not.
When I was a child, the notion of the once fashionable theory of
pan-Islamic had been exploded by East Pakistani Muslims fighting their
West Pakistani coreligionists. Our struggle was for Bengali nationalism
and secularism.

Even though I was born well after Partition, the notion of undivided
India held me in thrall. I wrote a number of poems and stories lamenting
the loss of undivided Bengal, indeed undivided India, even before I
visited this country. I simply could not bring myself to accept the bit
of barbed wire that kept families and friends apart even though they
shared a common language and culture. What hurt most was that this wire
had been secured by religion.

By my early teens I had forsaken religion and turned towards secular
humanism and feminism which sprang from within me and were in no way
artificially imposed. My father, a man with a modern scientific outlook,
encouraged me to introspect and as I grew older I broke away not just
from religion but also from all the traditions and customs, indeed the
very culture, which constantly oppressed, suppressed and denigrated
women. When I first visited India, specifically West Bengal, in 1989, I
did not for an instant think I was in a foreign land. From the moment I
set foot on Indian soil, I knew I belonged here and that it was, in some
fundamental way, inseparable from the land I called my own.

The reason for this was not my Hindu forebear. The reason was not that
one of India's many cultures is my own or that I speak one of its many
languages or that I look Indian. It is because the values and traditions
of India are embedded deeply within me. These values and traditions are
a manifestation of the history of the subcontinent. I am a victim of
that history. Then again, I have been enriched and enlivened by it, if
one can call it so. I am a victim of its poverty, colonial legacy,
faiths, communalism, violence, bloodshed, partition, migrations, exodus,
riots, wars and even theories of nationhood. I have been hardened
further by my life and experiences in a dirty, poverty- and
famine-stricken, ill-governed theocracy called Bangladesh.

The intolerance, fanaticism and bigotry of Islamic fundamentalists
forced me to leave Bangladesh, itself a victim of the subcontinent's
history. I was forced to go into exile; the doors of my own country
slammed shut in my face for good. Since that moment I sought refuge in
India. When I was finally allowed entry, not for an instant did I think
I was in an alien land. Why did I not think so, especially when every
other country in Asia, Europe and America felt alien to me? Even after
spending 12 years in Europe I could not think of it as my home. It took
less than a year to think of India as my home. Is it because we, India
and I, share a common history? Had East Bengal remained a province of
undivided India, would the state have tolerated an attack on basic human
freedoms and values and the call for the death by hanging of a secular
writer by the proponents of fundamentalist Islam and self-seeking
politicians? How would a secular democracy have reacted to this threat
against one of its own? Or is the burden of defending human and
democratic values solely a European or American concern? The gates of
India remained firmly shut when I needed its shelter the most. The
Europeans welcomed me with open arms. Yet, in Europe I always considered
myself a stranger, an outsider. After 12 long years in exile when I
arrived in India it felt as though I had been resurrected from some
lonely grave. I knew this land, I knew the people, I had grown up
somewhere very similar, almost indistinguishable. I felt the need to do
something for this land and its people. There was a burning desire
within me to see that women become educated and independent, that they
stand up for and demand their rights and freedom. I wanted my writing to
invigorate and contribute in some way to the empowerment of these women
who had always been oppressed and suppressed.

In the meanwhile, a few Islamic fundamentalists in Hyderabad chose to
launch a physical attack upon me. The decision to attack me was
motivated by the desire to gain popularity among the local masses. "A
woman by the name of Taslima Nasrin has launched a vicious attack upon
Islam and is all set to destroy the tenets of the faith. Therefore,
Islam must be protected from this woman and the only way to do so is to
kill her. Her death will bring many rewards: millions as fatwa bounty in
this world, salvation and unparalleled delights in the next." This is
the manner in which Islamic fundamentalists in secular India are
attempting to entice poor, uneducated, uninformed Muslims while
simultaneously looking to solidify their vote bank within the community.

After hearing of the incident in Hyderabad, fundamentalist leaders in
West Bengal, where I live, became so excited that they wasted no time in
issuing fatwas against me and calling for my head. Students from
madrasas who did not even know of my existence joined the fray. They
knew of my blasphemy without having read a single one of my books. How
did they know? Because their leaders had assured them that I had made it
my mission to destroy Islam. Therefore, it was their individual and
collective responsibility to protect and preserve their faith. Can one
find a more perfect example of brainwashing? While their knowledge of my
work may be infinitesimal, their knowledge of Islam is equally so and
they have turned their faith into a commodity for their own base ends.

Almost twenty per cent of India's population is Muslim and,
unfortunately, the most vocal representatives of this considerable
community are fundamentalists. Educated, civilised, cultured and secular
people from the Muslim community are not regarded as representative of
the community. What can be a greater tragedy than this?

A greater tragedy, arguably, is that I may have to endure in progressive
India, indeed in West Bengal, what I had to endure in Bangladesh. I live
practically under house arrest. No public place is allegedly safe for me
any longer. Not even the homes of friends are above suspicion, nothing
is above suspicion. Even stepping out for a walk is considered unsafe.
It is felt that I should spend my days in a poorly lit room grappling
with shadows.

Those who threaten to kill me are allowed by the state to spew their
venom. They have tacitly been given the right to do whatever they
desire, from disturbing the peace with their demonstrations to
terrorising the common man in the name of their faith. Those that oppose
them and their unholy brand of communalism, those who take a stance
against injustice and untruth, are silenced in invidious ways. I am
warned both implicitly and explicitly that, for example, a
fundamentalists' demonstration is about to take place and it would be
best for all concerned if I quietly left the city. Of course, do return
by all means, but only when the situation has calmed down, I am advised.
But will the situation ever calm down? For the last 13 years I have been
waiting for the situation to calm down.

I was told the same thing when I left Bangladesh to go into exile. I
refuse to leave because to leave would be to accept defeat and hand the
fundamentalists the victory they have always desired. It would spell
defeat for the freedom of expression, independence of thought, democracy
and secularism. I simply refuse to allow them this victory. If they are
eventually victorious, the loss will be as much mine as India's. If
India gives in to the fundamentalists' demand to deport me, the list of
demands will become an endless one. A deportation today, a ban tomorrow,
an execution the day after. Where will it cease? They will pursue their
agenda with boundless enthusiasm, knowing that victory is certain. And,
of course, the secular state and its secular custodians will bow down to
every fundamentalist's every whim and fancy. Giving in to their demands
is not a solution and any attempt to appease them makes them even more
dangerous and pernicious.

Even in my worst nightmares I had not imagined that I would be
persecuted in India as I was in Bangladesh. Persecuted by the majority
in one and a minority in another, but persecuted just the same. The
bigotry, the intolerance, the death threats, the terror: all the same. I
often wonder what good it would do them to kill me. The fundamentalists
are very well aware that it may bring them some benefit but will do
nothing for the cause of Islam. Islam will remain as it has always
remained. Neither I nor any other individual has the ability to
destabilise Islam. The face of fundamentalism, its language and its
intentions are the same the world over: to grab civilisation by the
scruff of its neck and drag it back a few millennia, kicking and

My world is gradually shrinking. I, who once roamed the streets without
a care in the world, am now shackled. Always outspoken, I am now
silenced, unable to demonstrate, left without the means of protesting
for what I hold dear. Film festivals, concerts and plays all continue
around me but I cannot participate. I spend my existence surrounded by
walls: a prisoner. But I refuse to acknowledge this as my destiny. I
still believe that one day I will be able to resume the life I once
enjoyed. I still believe that India, unlike Bangladesh, will triumph
over fundamentalism. I still believe that I will find shelter and solace
here. The love and affection of Indians is my true shelter and solace. I
still believe I will be able to spend the rest of my life here, free of
cares and worries. I love this country. I treat this land as my own. If
I were to be ejected from this country it would amount to the
cold-blooded murder of my most cherished ideals, perhaps a fate far
worse than I could meet at the hands of any fundamentalist.

I have nowhere to go, no country or home to return to. India is my
country, India is my home. How much more will I have to endure at the
hands of fundamentalists and their vote-grabbing political allies for
the cardinal sin of daring to articulate the truth? If the subcontinent
turns its back on me I have nowhere to go, no means to survive. Even
after all that has happened, I still believe, I still dream, that for a
sincere, honest, secular writer, India is the safest refuge, the only

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