Saturday, August 29, 2009
The wrong Number of Feminism
Beware of Taslima she can bite you back!
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A tumultuous time and turbulent Life helped a Bangladeshi woman ride a crazy horse astride : An intriguing story on Taslima Nasreen
In this write up, I tried my best to scan and screen all the media news/ documents published during last 16 years ( 1993 to 2009) what had been catered/ delivered as true news to mass regarding Taslima Nasreen. What I find as a conclusion that is Taslima Nasreen is a writer, but according to Bengali mass readers she is not highly grade one talented; The Bengal (both parts of border between India and Bangladesh) has produced so many contemporary talents where she has no position at all. The whole Bangladesh, excluding fundamentalists, condemn her for her ill behaviour, selfishness, and false statements. She is crazy for her publicity than her own literary work. She is irresponsible, ungrateful and untrustworthy.
The world stood beside her in 1994 onward because her freedom of speech/ expression was at risk, and International community saw her life was in danger. A violation of human rights. Amnesty International, The International PEN, Article 19, Reporter Sans Frontier and other Human Rights NGOs saved her.
To lead her life in foreign land they gave awards, cash money from various funds in the name of honour and prizes. Most of her prizes are given as a token to prove NGOs' activity. The International community, the defenders of Freedom of Expression and Human Rights, these groups are philanthropic and generous. By giving a prize they prove their own existence, and receiver gets some money to repair his/her loss. A means of surviving the present crisis, in foreign land and in honour. It's good! Taslima became famous because of illogical demand of those fundamentalists who wanted to kill her and due to publicity hype.
Fundamentalists are always loser, they create furore and make someone unnecessarily a hero. People, who are educated, spit on fundamentalism and terrorism. Common people should alienate them, ostracize them. The time will judge about Taslima, Is she a talented or not? What literature she has made for people and future generation. What contribution she has for this society, everything will be counted.
The following matter is a construction of this article, all information taken from different media sources including Hanifa deen's 'The crescent and the PEN', a famous biography of Taslima Nasreen. I express my gratefulness to everyone, from whom I took information.
This write up is in reaction on Taslima's falsifying to the executive director of International PEN, London, last month. She told and suggested, the PEN West Bengal Chapter did not do anything for her, and to replace this organized body.
This is an insult to all intellectuals and writers (who came down heavily to support her on the street) in Kolkata. The greedy, ungrateful woman, shame on her! Annada Shankar Roy to Sunil Gangopadhyay and many writers, personalities had supported her freedom of speech, this is media document and behind press many intellectuals supported her. And she denies! She thinks the world is a fool and accepts what she says. Shame on her!
What Taslima says about her views on religion and religious scriptures is true (Taslima's belief that "from the dawn of civilisation, humans have been guided by society and religion. Society and religion have always been owned and directed by men in every age. State and society surely, but religion too had forever dishonoured women.") It is true also that Religion and religious scriptures exploited common men too. We see in our primitive society women were on the seat of rulers, directors, men flocked around women from where (Characteristic of a matriarchy) matriarchal society the historians noted. Have ever women pondered how the wand or scepter of matriarchs handed over to patriarchs? They should look into this and check. Taslima must have read the theory of 'Evolution', and things that Darwin told and 'The ancient society' of Henry Morgan. All her answers she would find there. Blaming patriarchs is easy than admitting the weakness and fault of matriarchs. Women donot deserve to stand shoulder to shoulder with men in most fields, she should not forget. Religious scriptures have also honoured/guided weak people and women too. In Every society, if you do not like religion you can cleverly avoid. At least crores of people are living in Bangladesh, If they can live you too can live. Why do you want special status? You are not only social reformers. Hostility is a way of satisfying one's pride, greed and interest.
My view is male and female under different situations/ circumstances/ environments always act like a penetrator with their own sting on others. When a man rapes a woman, you call a violation of a human body. Rape occurs when a penis forcefully penetrates a vagina, and molestation we call when sexually a man touches a woman. These are the acts a married couple does almost every night, we don't bring allegation and accuse the man. And women crave for such an act from men. But when it constitutes with force we call rape. This penetration of penis is never harms like stealing something or killing someone, just applying a force and illegally on other human beings in animalistic way. We don't use 'rape' when it occurs to animals. We say it, a natural instinct of animal. So, we can sum up rape is an act of illegally force on someone. This illegally force on someone also, women folk do on men, in society, and society do not take notice on this. The society is completely in oblivion about this fact that a woman rapes a man, taunts, traumatizes, and defiles his complete mindset and psyche. It goes unregistered. A woman sets a man like a dog on something (material or wealth) which pleases her. Sometime because of a woman many lives are lost, many families are lost, and destruction breaks out. Does society ever count woman rapes and awards her with punishment? They should be punished equally.
In Nature, Man's eye is for a woman's body, because sex pleases a man's pride, and woman's eye is for man's all money, because jewelry and wealth can satisfy her pride. Man applies force on woman, so a woman does by her seductive look and body. When a man forces on a woman she surrenders, she is unable to resist, so a man also, when a woman bares her private parts, rubs her body against man, a man can not resist, he surrenders. And let being robbed by the woman.
You say how many women as rape victims; I say how many man as 'women's torture' victim? A man is stopped or killed because of his wealth, and money. A woman just gets a rape. Both are criminal offence, should be dealt sternly.
Taslima never say about how a woman kills and rapes a man from the ancient time, she never says how woman / young girls / childs molest an older man and defile the sanctity of mind/ soul. Be she a young or old, the touch of opposite sex always stirs a latent desire of man. She never says how she coerced a man to sex or what kind of her seductive poses took her men on her bed. And how she made love to them. She always says she is innocent and people did all the wrongs to her. sht! sht! She has taken the entire world for a fool!
We see, the war of feminism against man is not a whole truth, both sexes have the swords and stings and both are punishable by the same scepter of justice.
Yes, religious scriptures have stings to set deep on weak, gullible people. It never discriminates as man and woman. Still, Taslima wants to fight it single handed, Taslima should understand what is wrong is wrong. What is harmful we should avoid and can avoid, and we need to reform our society, not single handed but collectively. Perhaps the damage and loss she made to social movement (especially feminist movement) of Bangladesh she cannot repair because of her own greed of name and fame, at least the every corners of this globe say so. Followings are an assessment of last 16 years media news on Taslima.
Taslima Nasreen was born in August 25, 1962 in a Muslim family in Mymensingh, northern part of East Pakistan. A muslim majority, Bengali speaking country. It became independent in 1971, the country's new name is Bangladesh. She was brought up in a secular environment.
Mymensingh is not exactly the backwaters of the Bangladesh, this was not like Dhaka where the liberal literati hang out.
Her father Dr. Rajab Ali, was apparently a strict patriarch, whom she describes as violent and hateful, was a doctor. Her mother was a housewife and fond of religion, she had two elder brothers and one younger sister. All of them received a liberal education in schools and colleges. She studied in a medical college and qualified herself as a medical graduate in 1984, Medical Degree ( M.B.B.S), 1985 In-service training. Earning her medical degree in 1984, she worked in public hospitals for eight years.
By the age of 7, she tells us, she had been sexually molested by a maternal uncle and repeatedly raped one afternoon after a paternal uncle lured her to his bedside with magic tricks. Nasrin was a spirited little girl in shorts who played hopscotch and yearned to follow her older brothers and their friends to the river or climb onto the roof of the house to engage in war games and watch passersby. She was constantly pushed back into the shadows. Her mind was irrepressible, however -- especially as she sought to come to
terms with the hypocrisy around her, masked by religion, sex and tradition.
She became a doctor, working in a family planning clinic in Mymensingh in 1986-1989 Taslima worked in the villages as a medical officer. She was transferred to Dhaka in 1990 in 1990-1993. She worked in gynecology and anesthesiology departments in medical college hospitals. There she began mixing with the off-beat literary crowd and, while not considered a writer of considerable caliber, her lifestyle did set tongues wagging. She left the national medical service in 1993 - She was forced to quit her job, as the Government confiscated her passport and asked her to stop writings.
She begins publishing her poems in literary magazines in 1975.
And started editing and publishing poetry magazine in 1978.
In a society, not alike western countries, where sexuality is always repressed and opportunities for boys and girls to meet are curtailed. That explained why marriages between cousins were so popular. A boy is allowed to mix with girls at celebrations and weddings, and at first meeting they fall in love. Even the girls at university are shy young women, ignorant and afraid of their own sexuality, so when a man finds a girl like Taslima, outspoken, gossips with men, laughs and drinks you really are beguiled.
From the very early life Taslima was keen to see her names in print media. She used to write poems. When she was sixteen she discovered a ruse and stories grew wilder after Taslima began placing personal ads in the weekly Bichittra magazine. Which was all the rage among a clique of young people. Soon her name was appearing regularly and Nasreen and her other personas received a flood of answers, to her daring literary 'poses', printed in their next weeks edition. For the small sum of two taka (5 cents) you could place a small ad-- perhaps some lines of your favourite poem-with your name underneath, asking like- minded people to reply. Many have read Taslimas ad- in their youth. She was famous by these ruses.
This is a country, the Bangladesh, where social segregation in race, sex is common norm and apparent. The boys and girls in their adolescents and people who think having a sexual relation or affair is a macho or matter of pride and happiness, they slip through these ads, and it's a way of communicating to unknown and maintain keeping everything in dark from relatives and public. The magazine attracted group of students, and smuggled inside the houses, the parents never knew. Taslima and her sister Yasmeen were in these ads and they enjoyed the results.
A prig Zia, someone, who sent a rejoinder against taslima's ad. labeled girls who advertised on these pages are as 'characterless'.
Taslima's reply was ' Mr. Zia, at long last you have given away your true identity. You were perhaps born from a characterless mother'.
She could have avoided it but she flared up with flame of abusive word and stuck in tussle.
'The world exists, because I exist!' another famous line of her ad. expressing a brilliant summary of philosophical solipsism. And her cry hinted to her male readers that here was a young girl different to everyone else, 'I could n't care less about everything!'.
Taslima used to boast that she was the acme of success and she was incomparable.
'give me love, I shall offer you Puja (worship)', maybe the line taken from someone's poetry but it drew the bees to the honey. Taslima loved it as responses were pouring down profusely. Responses like' Taslima, your whole body is aching, where should I apply medicine' was pretty racy and titillating for young people in Bangladesh.
Nasreen's reputation was always under scrutiny, even in her teens. She graduated from writing poetry in her diary when she was thirteen and a few years later, in high school, developed a reputation by writing letters to film magazine Chittrali on anything that struck her fancy in the fantasy world of Indian Films, she loved corresponding, but most of all, she loved seeing her name in print.
Taslima began her literary life dabbling in poetry as a young girl when she was 15 years old, beginning with poetry in literary magazines, and afterwards herself editing a literary periodical called SeNjuti (1978 - 1983) which means in English 'an evening lamp', quite an achievement for a girl in a small town. She was the president of a literary organization while in medical college, where she staged many cultural programs.
She began blurring the gender divide even back then. As an editor of the local magazine SheNjuti, she did not use the term shampadika (female editor) to describe herself. She was the 'shampadak' (a Bengali word for male editor, generally implying the masculine gender). She felt the heat of a male power. That was at a time when politically correct Bengali was almost unheard of, even more so in a district town like Mymensingh. Frowns of disapproval and hostility began.
Her first poetry book was published in 1986.
Second poetry book was published in 1989.
Back to Mymensingh, Taslima says "I remember the cloistered life, the rules, the smallness of space in life," she says in an interview. "To grow up under watchful eyes of my parents, that's my first exposure to differences between the way boys were treated from girls. I learnt about discrimination early in life." Her father leaving the family to remarry didn't help improve her impression of the male species.
Nasrin was married and divorced thrice and she has no qualms for the society accuse her as promiscuous. She shows social reformers a new horizon. A covert idea to encourage polygamy, single-mindedness, permissive broader society.
Taslima married Rudra Mohammed Shahidullah in the early eighties, both students. Rudra was the rebel, a popular poet among the young and bold, a familiar face at the Dhaka University campus. Taslima was relatively unknown at the time. Their marriage didn't last long and Rudra is now dead. His loyal band of followers are convinced that she just used him as a stepping stone to join Dhaka's arty crowd.
Next came Nayeemul Islam Khan. Nayeem is well known in the Bangladesh media, a bold and brash brand of journalism, a pioneer in the field. Perhaps his revolutionary zeal to journalism attracted Taslima. "Actually the proposal came from her," says Nayeem. "Her relationship with Rudra was over and by the time we met, she was free." He was dispassionately speaking about Taslima. "I think the big transition began from 1989 and peaked in 1992. She decided that her goals had to be set and having set them, she left him to get them. Nasreen is a single-minded person. She is after what she wants."
Nayeem observed the role of Nasreen's father in her life as significant too. "She had never called her father 'abba' or addressed him by any such term". He feels the bad memories of her father's betrayal contribute to her becoming extra bold and outspoken. Anyway, that marriage ended too with Narseen's dalliance flirting with her publisher which went on to becoming a full-blown affair, if reports are to be believed.
Minar Mahmud was her third husband, also a journalist. He was the editor of Bichinta, a rash Bengali weekly, popular among the youth of the day, with little regard to norms and conventions. Taslima and Minar, it seemed an appropriate pair in the beginning at the time but Taslima accused him of physical violence and their marriage was soon at the threshold of ending.
She published her third poetry book in 1990.
She started writing columns on women's rights in the newspapers and magazines and became a very popular columnist. Islamic fundamentalists started campaign against her and broke the newspaper offices and filed cases against her because she criticized Islamic oppression on women.
……. nearly three months since she went into hiding after the Bangladeshi Government charged her with defaming Islam, she has been attacked by fundamentalists and by her fellow feminists, who blame her for drawing the mullahs' wrath.
……. It is clear why the mullahs have put a price on her head. she is an outspoken feminist, and she has written with contempt about the political motives and spiritual affectations of the Muslim clergy. "The country is infected with them," she said. "Their long hair, beards and robes conceal their insatiable lust for wealth and women."
The Islamic fundamentalists are not the only enemies that Ms. Nasrin has made. Her own Government, led by Khaleda Zia, a woman prime minister, was unable or unwilling to stand by her. The more progressive leader of the opposition, Hasina Wazed, daughter of the assassinated "father of the nation," Sheik Mujibur Rahman, has said Ms. Nasrin doesn't deserve to live in Bangladesh. Her fellow writers were nearly mute during the two months she spent as a fugitive from a Government arrest warrant for blasphemy. Even the feminists in Bangladesh turned on her, accusing her of becoming a patsy for the West.
In 1991, her book 'selected columns' was published and she became a best selling author.
Islamic fundamentalists continued vicious demonstrations and processions against her all over the country. 1992 Taslima's second book of essays was published.
''Taslima smashed committee'' was formed. They burned Taslima's book in the national book fair. Taslima was not allowed to visit book fair.
Received prestigious literary award ''Ananda'' for her book ''selected columns'' from India. Became a best selling author in West Bengal, a state of India.
When she received an important Bengali literary prize from Calcutta. The award of this prize to a writer from Bangladesh would normally have received front-page coverage in Dhaka's many newspapers. But the Calcutta editors' choice of a book by a 28-year-old woman with a reputation for writing popular books about sex was considered a calculated insult to the largely male Bangladeshi literary community.
On September 16,1993, 500 members of the Bangladesh Sahaba Sainik Parishad, or Council of Soldiers for Islam (CSI), a militant group based in a madrassah in Sylhet, held a rally calling for Nasrin to be executed for "blasphemy and conspiracy against Islam, the Holy Koran and its prophet." On September 23 they offered a bounty of $1,250 for her death within fifteen days. On October 2 they staged another march, this time threatening a general strike unless she was arrested by October 7.
On October 21, 1993, leaders of the CSI held a press conference in Dhaka to announce they were spreading the campaign against Nasrin throughout the country. They demanded that she be executed and said that if the government did not oblige, they would try her themselves. They also announced the inauguration of a new campaign to institute the death penalty for blasphemy and other crimes against Islam, the Prophet Mohammed or the Koran. Members of the group had already brought charges against two of Nasrin's books in private legal suits, on the grounds that they questioned Islamic law and offended religious sentiments.
A brief item on this press conference went out on an AP wire and was picked up in England, and the London office of International PEN . Ain O Salish Kendra, a human rights organization began a regular correspondence with PEN.
Nasrin had been enraging strict Muslims for several years. In her columns, poems, and fiction, she wrote withering diatribes against the oppression of women and the Islamic code that made them virtually the chattel of men. Her subject matter became increasingly sexual, and her condemnation of men was unrelenting.
Islamic fundamentalists launched a campaign against her in 1990, staging street
demonstrations and processions. They broke into newspaper offices that she used to regularly write from, sued her editors and publishers, and put her life in danger, a danger
that only increased over time. She was publicly assaulted several times by fundamentalist mobs. No longer was she welcomed to any public places, not even to book fairs that she
loved to visit. In 1993, a fundamentalist organization called Soldiers of Islam issued a fatwa against her, a price was set on her head because of her criticism of Islam, and she
was confined to her house. She was publicly condemned to death in Bangladesh for 'blasphemy' and a reward given for her execution on 16 September 1993 by members of an armed militant Muslim group, due to her novel Lajja (Shame).It was not until the fall of 1993 that she became an international cause célèbre. The publication of the book had further complicated Ms. Nasreen's career, her book "Lajja" ("Shame") was banned by the Government in 1993.
This documentary novel concerned the plight of a Hindu family in Bangladesh following the demolition of a mosque by Hindu fundamentalists in India. In the violence that followed over 2,000 innocent Indian Muslims were killed. In Bangladesh, the majority Muslim community burned Hindu temples, shops and homes in retaliation.
When the banned book was pirated in India by the Hindu fundamentalists, and sold on buses and trains as propaganda, there was further grist for resentment. Though Taslima issued a press release declaring her hatred of all fundamentalists, Hindu or Muslim, the secular intellectuals and politicians were unappeased, and by the end of 1993 one mullah stepped forward with a $1,500 reward for her assassination, the first of several.
When human rights organizations took up her cause, she was accused of painting Bangladesh as a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism, even though the Islamic party has only 26 of the 330 seats in Parliament. A fundamentalist newspaper in Dhaka called for her arrest for violating a blasphemy clause left over from British rule. On June 4 the Government approved a warrant for her arrest. .
The third book of essays on women's freedom was published. Taslima was physically attacked by the fundamentalists in the national book fair.
Views of Women in Bangladesh on Taslima:
Her relationship with local women's organizations was not good at all. Ms. Nasrin recalls being approached by a prominent Dhaka feminist only to be asked who was she to be writing on women's issues.
A worker of feminism movement said to an author in context of Taslima, 'I have been working with the women of Bangladesh for 25 years and no one knows my name, just Taslima Nasrin's.' Many Bangladeshi feminists are particularly discomfited by her writings on sexuality, feeling that there are more important priorities and that by writing about such intimate matters Ms. Nasrin exposes women to male titillation and betrays them.
"Other women write love stories, I write about sexual oppression," Taslima says. And she writes about sex as she sees fit. "I have no shyness describing anything about a woman's body or a man's body because I am a doctor".
We heard a milling gossip :Taslima had a fling of romance with Daud Haider and married in Germany. As a desire, flesh and blood made of Taslima needed it badly.
When Daud became a target of Islamic wrath, and marked as an apostate of Islam, Bangladesh government impounded his passport, he could not renew it. The president of Indian PEN Annada Shankar Roy with another notables like Satyajit Roy and scores of other distinguished Indian intellectuals, in February 1985 appeared in the scene to prevent Daud from being handed over to Ershad's Military government, for he was in trouble again. The congress Central government has changed and Daud was refused Indian citizenship and ordered to leave.
The campaign attracted front page coverage in news paper, praising Daud as the greatest poet of South Asia. This worked and Daud stayed in Kolkata on year to year basis. Nine years later similar campaign started for Taslima, the players are almost the same and added a lot new. Anand Bazar Patrika group played a vital role, deputy editor of Anand Bazar patrika, Nikhil sarkar helped Daud, the same organization had helped Taslima this time. A media is very powerful led by an individual or an influential head of a corporate house, be it wrong or right, it can create a hype and squeeze out the sentiment of gullible mass unjustifiably.
Daud had some magic tricks in his behavioural pattern, he could have befriended people easily. When Gunter Grass came in Kolkata, in 1986, Daud met him and Mr Grass liked him, and admired his poetry, came to his rescue by writing a letter to the German foreign minister Genscer, and to the Academy of the Arts in Berlin, which awarded him a scholarship and a Lufthansa plane ticket. He arrived in Berlin, lived with grass for one year, and been with Radio Deutsche Welle in the Asian department since 1989 has a residency permit.
Daud helped spread news about Taslima in German. People were sympathetic as they heard another 'Islamic Fataw' after Rushdie.
'Fataw', the religious edict, was then a sensational word spread by wild wind like fire in forest, it created a hype deep in people's mind. People were out to fight it. A German journalist Jorg Lau Later confessed, '.. it took some time before we learnt that it was only a small, unknown group of fanatics and neither the state, nor the head of state, like Iran, was involved, maybe we did not want to know'. The Taslima's situation was grievous but not so life threatening by a head of state/ country that matched the awkward threat for Salman Rushdie. Salman Rushdie was under the ire / wrath of religious supreme leader of Islam and head of a country.
Lau drew Taslima's case to the attention of famous German writer Martin Walser, who, in turn, appealed to his good friend minister Klaus Kinkel to help Taslima leave Bangladesh. Walser's open letter was published and aroused the interest of European Parliament.
This was the time when many claims helped Taslima. The SOS (The internationally recognized distress signal in radio code) call made hyper sensation and made a woman at the top of name, fame and money, which she does not deserve at all ( she was not a feminist nor a good writer in true sense) or better say many were more talented writers had not been recognised and awarded. The Bengal is a store house of female intellectuals, but poor luck. This is called lottery or someone's forehead. Taslima got all her awards as lottery. The Bengal smiles at her.
New york, German, French Sweden these countries, without realizing the exact situation of Taslima started campaigning and tried their best to rescue. They heard the word 'fataw' and they did not want to know anything, they jumped in action without delay.
Sujata sen a journalist of 'The statesman', in Kolkata, who interviewed Taslima in 1994 May. which by Reutar picked The Bangladeshi English news paper 'The independent' published and Bangla medium papers followed to print the news. It was a time when everyone jumped to make cash out of the Taslima- events, and buy some name and fame.
In an interview 'Faz' on 29 September 1995 Daud had spoken candidly about Taslima's writing and her sudden rise. At that time German press were starting to ask questions, aspersions were cast that Taslima was lying, or at best exaggerating her plight for publicity purposes.
In an interview with Mariam Niroumand of 'Faz', in Sept. 1995, Daud was quoted as saying that Taslima's writing went unnoticed until she started writing racy and juicy columns for a news paper where her husband was an editor. Even then, he claimed, nobody was much interested until she started spicing it with what he called 'pornographic' fantasies; a syphilitic husband who frequented brothels, a woman who wanted to take off her shirt in public-like a man - who demanded to know why a woman could not visit brothels.
In July 29,1994, 100,000 Moslems (according to Taslima, the number is 300 000, Taslima always exaggerate for publicity stun) fundamentalists held a public meeting and demanded her death.
General Strikes all over the country were observed. Some of the Mullahs, in Dhaka, labeled Taslima an apostate and demanded her execution by hanging.
The real tragedy is that two countries which gave her the oxygen of language have cut her off. It's not the geography alone, but the languagescape also. a fish being made to live on land. She does not have home. She is homeless everywhere. Because she puts an entire nation in hell (a riot broke out, people were killed, national property were damaged, though she was not a reformer or a feminist) only to gain her happiness.
'Desh' a literary journal of high esteem owned by Anand Bazar Group of Kolkata, supported her, the magazine published Taslima's eloquent, elaborate and exaggerate views on 17 December 2003 ' sakal griha haralo jar' (whose all homes are lost or who has lost all her homes). There she wrote to sensationalise and create public sentiment and support for her.
There were two more writers, Shibnatayan Roy (who wrote an elongated essay on the history of feminism of Bangladesh and Taslima, entitled Banya golaper gandha 'the perfume of wild rose') and Mahasweta Devi. Mahasweta devi argues on freedom of expression ( 'Bai nisiddha kara chalena', you can not ban a book or books should not be banned) on Taslima's book 'Dwikhondito' which in English literally means 'divided in two parts'. Mahasweta devi reviewed the books in review section of the magazine.
In 1999, 27 Novenber, The same magazine had a cover story on Taslima, The writers were kabir chowdhury, a Bangladeshi who supported Taslima's speech freedom (baishamyer pratibad thikai , kintu sahitya-o bate which translates in English ' a protest of/for discrimination, true, but literature also), shibnarayan Roy ( bibeki bidroher paramparay tikhno, a sharp traditional rebellion of conscience) Jashodhara Bagchi (bangali gharer meyera jevabe bara hoy, the way how a girl grows up in Bengali home), shyamal gangopadhyay ( Avibadan, he banya golap, Greetings, hello wild rose), Samarendra Sengupta (khyatir nepathye, behind the fame ), Rajat Roy (na, na, na, ami manbona, No , I shall not yield / grant), Sudeshna Chakraborty ( akash dhaken taslima ar mamta, the appearance of Mamata and Taslima cover the sky). In 2002 18 july, Tilottama Mazumdar wrote 'she is exceptional and controversial' ( byatikrami , bitarkito tini) in the same Desh magazine. May be this house had printed and published more articles with more writers who writes regular in the periodicals of this house beyond my knowledge.Besides this house there are a lot news papers, periodicals published news in support her.
This Bengal tried to project her in Bengal ( including Bangladesh) to save her, and she is ungrateful when she denies this Bengal has not done anything for her. Shame!! It seems betrayal is in her blood.
We have witnessed and seen many reformers in this century, in both side of Bengal. They have more contributions for women than 'Taslima the woman' all over the land, towns and villages. They have not been paid their due necessary recognition or awards, Is it because they could not create riots, could not provoke people damage national property, by saying or insulting religion, ruling party, or disregarding the law of the country or creating furore?
Against religion and Islam there are individuals and organizations that spoke against and bringing reforms more than Taslima did are yet to be recognized.
If one makes a questions why the west is insulting others giving awards to a lesser candidate? What will be the answer I don't know. Nor, I do think that awarding and cannonising Taslima will help promote feminism or remove the wretched condition of crores of Bengali women. The root is stuck deep down socio- economical condition. Who has money he rules the family. It does not matter whether he or she is in position of a master. And in nature weaklings always a victim, it never says male or female or any discrimination. These days we observe women are the oppressor of male species in human societies. So, many war were fought in down history line because of women. In every society a son is first called to lift a burden for rest of the family, is it not the truth? Is it not an exploitation by woman. A persistent demand of golden deer made by Sita persuaded Ram had to go implausible and face danger in Ramayan. Woman like Taslima also dangerous to the society of undeveloped countries, Asia and Africa. Let us promote the socio economic conditions, let us first make sure of our food and shelter, education. Let us first respect the mass and show them the avenues of light. The rest will come by following.
The Bangladesh has heard the name of a reformer who asked against religion and Islam, but I never heard he had to flee his country Bangladesh. His name was Aroj Ali Matubbar (1307 -13 92 Bengali year), he died in 1985. In 1973, his book 'satyer sandhane' ( in search of Truth) had challenged the religion and Islam, a series of questions were set against his religion, many were infuriated, He was famous in eighties and nineties. But I never heard he was driven out of country. His collected works had been published in 1993. And I do not understand also why Moslem fundamentalists are after Taslima why they were not after Aroj Ali Matubbar who left bigger question a set of questions against Islam, Christian, and Hindus? Before Aroj Ali Taslima is a little child, Her expression about Islam also lesser than Aroj Ali Matubbar. Is it because Taslima created some hostility to gain personal interest?
(People should read the collected works of Aroj ali Matubbar.Published by: Pathak Samabesh, 17A Azij Co- operative super market, Shahbag, Dhaka -1000, Bangladesh.)
I think it is Taslima's personal promiscuous life, her aping western appearance and personal enmity, jealousy and lots of irresponsible actions against peers writers, friends in wrong place for her own personal benefit.
Taslima also have come across and had under influence of some individuals like Prabir Ghosh, Bhavani Prasad Sahoo here in Bengal and in Kolkata, their published books were hot-cakes and spread rational thinking across the border of Bangladesh. Many had heard the name of Dr. Abraham Kavoor a scientist and author of 'Be Gone Godmen!' and other books. Their contribution are more than Taslima did. But West never canonized them. They never became a celebrity as Taslima. They never made any irresponsible comment or letter what is untrue, false and lies like Taslima.
Another book "The Dead Hand of Islam" by Colin Maine, published by The Rationalist Association of New South Wales which had criticized Islam more sternly , I think ' Satanic Verses' by Salman Rushdie in comparison with the former book is nothing. So, one can assess Fundamentalists are opportunists and hypocrites, they, like dogs are set after someone by political and other powerful organizations. You can not fit them in a particular box.
Taslima succeeded in using West as ladder like her bed partners in her own early life. Is it feminism?
Writers and intellectuals outside Bangladesh supported Taslima and demanded her safety and security. After all she is a human being she should be saved. After staying in hiding for two months she was granted bail from the high court and was forced to leave her country. She received the Kurt Tucholsky prize from the Swedish PEN. Sakharov prize for freedom of thoughts was given by European Parliament. Received Human Rights award From French Government.
She was awarded with Edit de Nantes prize in France.
Bangladeshi publishers stopped publishing her books. Newspapers-editors stopped publishing her columns.
Views against Quran:
The Bangladeshi government, meanwhile, sought a court order for her return. Unfazed, she went even further and in November declared that the Qur`an had only historical value. According to Taslima, the religious scriptures are out of time, out of place. Instead of religious laws, she maintains, what is needed is a uniform civil code that accords women equality and justice. Her views caused fourteen different political and non-political religious organizations to unite for the first time, starting violent demonstrations, calling general strikes, blocking government offices, and demanding her immediate execution by hanging.
August, 1994 The writer whose image is framed by a noose on hundreds of vindictive placards went into hiding when her challenge of Scripture prompted legal charges and Muslim fatwas, or religious decrees, calling for her death. She emerged into Dhaka's High Court building from a Toyota sedan, disguising herself with a black head scarf and tinted glasses. She appeared grim and jittery through a 45-minute hearing that ended with her release on bail. Then she fled home to relatives.
Five days before her surprise appearance in court to face charges of making inflammatory statements, a crowd of 100,000 demonstrators gathered outside the Parliament building in Dhaka to bay for her blood. They branded her "an apostate appointed by imperial forces to vilify Islam."
Taslima's life went in danger when a demonstration in Dhaka against her announced they would release thousands of snakes and everybody will be killed. All people in the rally were simple, ignorant, illiterate common folk; if provoked they could do anything fatal.
The snake infestation in Dhaka made alarmed to all. The street rally, where a handful of snakecharmers cavorted in the front ranks of a large noisy march wearing reptiles slung around their necks and grins on their faces - for they were the centers of attention and it was a great days outing for all and sundry-drew international headlines; news wire hummed and television cameras recorded the colourful tamasha orchestrated by a powerful mullah who called himself a Mufti and knew all the snake charmers and traders from the bazaars of old Dhaka
A leader of the militant Muslim Sahaba Sainik Parishad said he would pay a reward to anyone who captured her alive and took her to the police.
However, Bangladeshi feminists are cool to her. They don't support the crusade against her, but, according to activist Farida Akhtar, she "is not a women's movement issue, but an issue created by the international media."
In Sweden she remained in hiding while stating that, when it was safe, she would return to Bangladesh to continue her battle for women's rights.
Shafik rehaman was educated, urbane who lived in self -exile in the United Kingdom for six years after his paper was twice banned and he was detained three times by the Ershad Government.
Shafik Rehaman was the editor of Jai jai din, a national weekly with a liberal reputation and huge mass circulation. Between 1992 and 1994, Nasreen, as he used to call her, wrote a weekly column for his paper, which became one of the most talked about columns in the city, 'Noshta column' it was called, using the word to imply a ruined or loose woman-in English. 'The Fallen prose of a Fallen woman' Shafik's graphic artist drew a sketch of a bosomy woman, like Nasreen, the editor murmured.
In that paper Taslima, what wrote could certainly make you angry but it got your attention, this is why she clicked. The editors had to keep a sharp watch, because Taslima would try slipping in certain words and phrases; sneak them past him, and if he was not careful his paper would land in serious trouble. Shafik said, Taslima never cared about the consequences, she was not even aware of what might happen.'
' I have a standing instruction, that anything written on religion must be combed through four or five times.. we are here to educate people , make them liberated so that they can make their own challenge against religion. It is not my business to challenge religion.'
Taslima's critique, some scholars and writers said, her view on religion lacked any scholarly approach, neither she has done much reading beyond basic, crude books written by populist mainly uneducated, mullahs.
Shafik said, Taslima never practiced Islam, she was never known to be a philosopher or a learned scholars-there was a credibility gap. She would go to libraries and find third rated commentaries of Qur'an and Hadith,which contains sexual matters and, a great deal of time had to spend, written by uneducated mullahs. Taslima would screen to bash Islam and things that can infuriate mullahs or draw attention of mass.
Nasreen's articles attacked the crude- mullah-Islam, the folk Islam which shapes women's lives in Bangladesh.
In one of her articles she wrote about an old man taking his grand daughter out in a rickshaw and molesting her. Now this would have been all right, but then she added that he had a beard and a cap and beads… We all know that an old man can have sexual cravings, but she had to make the old man a religious mullah! This is Taslima who created sensation and hype.
At the end of 1994 she gradually ran out of ideas, and stopped.
The real fundamentalist explosion came in May 1994, when she was quoted in the Calcutta Statesman as saying that the Qur`an "should be revised thoroughly." This brought larger and more vociferous demonstrations, demanding that the government put Nasrin to death. She insisted that her statement referred to the Shari'ah, the Islamic code of law, rather than the Qur`an itself. The outcry against her went unabated, however, and the government called for her arrest, invoking a 19th-century blasphemy law. After about two months in hiding, Nasrin appeared in court. She was released on bail and allowed to keep her passport. A few days later she left the country.
Instead of condemning the calls for Nasrin's murder, the Bangladesh authorities charged Nasrin, on 4 June 1994, with 'deliberate and malicious intention of hurting the religious sentiments' for an interview given to an Indian newspaper. Nasrin fled to Europe on 10 August 1994 and has since lived abroad.
Her lawyer has asked for government protection for her.
If she is convicted of outraging religious feelings, she could face up to three years in jail.
Other alternatives were worse. Bangladeshi clerics refused to withdraw their call, made in 1994, for her execution, and they threatened that the government would collapse if it helped her.
In 1994 Her books began getting published in many Indian and European languages (as she was then a new and branded persecuted writers rescued by the west, so a curiosity tremor ran past through most European intellectual's vein, out of curiosity they wanted to read it ). Muslim fundamentalists demanded her execution by hanging. Countrywide protest started against Taslima's view. Death penalty against blasphemy was demanded.
The Government of Bangladesh filed a case against her on the charges of hurting religious feelings of the people and a non-bailable arrest warrant was issued against her. She went into hiding with the help of a few secular people in Bangladesh. She and her kins, friends were then sending SOS call in Europe and America by fax.
Nasreen fled from Bangladesh in August 1994 when Muslim radicals charged that she had insulted the Koran and was promoting sex outside of marriage.
By March 1994, Taslima and Swedish PEN were starting to correspond, and by the time of her Paris trip in May of that year, they were suggesting that she visits Sweden sometime in the future, hinting of ways to make this happen. By early June when the other board members had gone on vacation, Gabi was left alone to carry on liaising and to see if she could come to Sweden to receive the prize.
Meredith Tax had pioneered PEN's International women's committee in 1986 against enormous, often vicious opposition from the old guard and had won and lost some fierce battle at PEN congress over the years.
In 1994 , Merdith was looking for a case that would raise the profile of the new women's committee, proving once for all. ' We are not taken seriously as writers and thinkers,' Tax argued in a PEN 1986 newsletter. Merdith Tax as a woman of enormous energy and commitment, with a great heart, who felt a strong sisterly engagement with Taslima. Meredith understood that being an American was not to her advantage in this delicate international matter and so she willingly swung her support and information networks towards the more neutral northern European Countries like Sweden, Denmark, finland and Norway, helping them take a lead role in the Taslima affair while she concentrated on involving the women's movement.
Gabi, and his news paper decided to run with the Taslima Nasreen's case and there was a lot of space to be filled, a perfect opportunity to publish the faxes that Taslima was sending out of Dhaka, in July 1994 to Meredith calling for help.
Meredith passed them on to Gabi and Taslima knew they were being published. The author would later receive payment for the publication of these faxes and other materials and extracts from Gabi's paper, Expressen.
It was obvious that Taslima wanted her story told to the West, she was very keen to happen this, she needed publicity. Someone might have advising her to map out a strategy to get rid the crisis.
'Swedish Defence of Rushdie Committee', Gabi was a founding member, around 10 June he met foreign minister Margaretha af Ugglas, and the minister took an advantage of general poll that was two months ahead. The minister was struggling to find an issue that can help her election and win. The minister wanted the voter's hearts. They formed a committee including Gabi. And Gabi was given access to the Swedish Ambassador in Bangladesh. Sweden was enjoying its first year in the European Union and Taslima's case provided an opportunity to take a leadership role in Human rights. The political context was ripe in Sweden for inviting Taslima to come to Sweden. They could use her in domestic political context and as a clarion call for human rights. Gabi felt more and more self important in the whole episode.
Gabi with RSF a French organization (Reporters Sans Frontier, with Robert Menard executive directors) which had journalists all around the world started campaign in twenty two countries in leading newspapers.
Years later Gabi admits, as a group, they acted without thinking-victims of their imaginations. ' I think we overestimated the threat and maybe in a way we destroyed her life, because I am no longer sure that it was the right move to make at that moment'.
To save Taslima and to achieve their goal, the human right activists and the media painted Bangladesh as an Islamic Fundamentalist's country. The national pride of Bangladesh was shattered. Those who'd felt sympathy found it hard to forgive her.
Gabi finds it hard to forgive himself and now admits, 'I supported this betrayal. I did not ask the questions I should have. I did not seek information.'
Gil Gonzalez- Foerster, a journalist of R S F in Paris, was one of many foreigners who received a midnight fax from Taslima calling for help when she went hiding in 1994. On then secret message were pouring out of Dhaka like an overflowing drain . most people wer flattered, believing they were only ones she trusted.
The letter by Salman Rushdie was published in more than twenty two papers around the world, including The Newyork times in mid July 1994.
The women activists of PEN tried hard to stop Salman Rushdie from publishing his letter. Linking Taslima's name to Rushdie was not a clever thing to do, they believed, a high profile campaign led by Rushdie was not certainly in the best interest of Taslima, they believed.
Sara Hossain ( a lawyer of Taslima case and human right activist), in Dhaka had tabs on Taslima and used to inform the situation in Dhaka to international community. Meredith, Siobhan Dowd and Sara Whyatt were taking cues from Hossain.
Gabi Gleichmann, was then president of Swedish PEN.
On august 10, 1994, Taslima arrived in Stockholm exhausted and emotionally battered after two months of hiding amid the hysteria and uncertainty surrounding her case. Her legal advisers, her family and friends urged her to take what, to them, seemed the best course.
Taslima has habit of speaking lies and exaggerate things. When she was leaving Dhaka, she tells everyone in the wee hours of morning thousands of fundamentalists surrounded Zia International Airport in Dhaka, determined to prevent Taslima from leaving. But the writer of 'The Crescent and The PEN', Ms. Hanifa Deen when investigated the case no witness verified it. The local journalists the writer had spoken to emphatically deny such thing ever took place. But Taslima took this incident an obligatory reference to address all time she meets press. One can assess the incident that the news of her impending departure was certainly kept a secret as long as possible to avoid any escalation of the anti-government demonstrations, but ever since the international community had moved in to aid Taslima, the fundamentalists and Islamists had lost the upper hand; they no longer had the strength to stop her from leaving.
The western audience, if they are to accept a martyr on the altar of free speech in Taslima, they need to believe all trashes full of lies Taslima speaks. Taslima literally 'fleeing' Bangladesh is a part of Taslima mythology, the exaggeration of her persecution added little perfume to her free speech, the eulogizing press in west made her an icon of Feminism and martyr of free speech, which she is not, she is not a feminist nor a martyr of free speech. At the time of departure, the rumour was that she was under a Burqa, but fact was Taslima wore a traditional dress, which she wore most of the time anyway, not tent-like burqa, covering from head to toe, she added a long shawl to frame her face with an attitude of traditional woman disguising completely her real-self, she might have not wanted any confrontation and any risk on her life at that crucial time of her life. She tells, no one could have recognized, mistaken her identity.
Taslima arrived in Stockholm, a silent figure accompanied by a small entourage from the Swedish Foreign Ministry, the Swedes had boarded her plane in Bangkok. A respected Bangladeshi man of senior years who, as part of the negotiations was also accompanying her.
Sitting in the VIP lounge in Amsterdam, Taslima saw pictures of herself on the television monitor, CNN was breaking the news that she was on her way to Sweden. On her arrival at Arlanda Airport she was met by the Swedish foreign minister and president of Swedish PEN Gabi Gleichmann, police men were everywhere. It was time of celebration for Taslima and her crusader of free speech.
The West, mainly the Europeans activists were fighting for long against blasphemy acts and censorship, they had been fighting for Mr. Salman Rushdie, and they found on then when Taslima arrived to them, It was a victory to them, it is their ideological war against censorship and a support of freedom of Expression. The both party, one is an asian (where segregation is in many folds, mostly education, sex, religion and economy; where people fight for two square of meal a day and cheated because of illiteracy) writer under censorship and the crusaders is the other party. Both seemed fitted in one box.
Tha Swedes did not understand Taslima's situation and the gravity of the total episode at that time.
Secrets have a way of spilling out in small towns and villages. Wagging tongues sift through every small sign looking for nuggets to trade. Other countries have the tabloids to spread their culture of gossip; Bengal uses other means.
The great Brahamaputra river, on whose banks Taslima played as a small child flows through the districts of Mymensingh.
A culture of gossip acts as a weapon of social coercion; its claws are sharp and it stands ready to attack the nonconformists, the prosperous, the failures, those who commit the sin of being beautiful or being too happy, or straying from approved ways. Like ripe mangoes, people fall from grace and waiting underneath to catch them are any number of celebrants with grasping hands stretched out waiting. Rich man, poorman, beggar man, thief, they are all on equal terms and almost anyone can join in.
Unwritten laws, buried in customs and traditions, often conflict with the secular laws of the land and the constitution. There are times when they even override what is written in the religious scripture. These ways are entrenched in the nation's psyche and stretch back through history. Men control and, in most cases, protect women under their guardianship; sisters, wives, mothers, and daughters. And, in return, women are expected to be chaste and obedient, and above all, self sacrificing.
I don't understand one riddle that if all men are womanizing and having affairs than how women you say are chaste. They also a part of the affairs.they are not bereaved of the heavenly honey! Still you say women are bereaved, and can not sexually enjoy. And in a country where a man is pressed like flattened /papered rice with family burden, including the demand of woman's dream objects or desired things, and where opportunity of income is least, a country economically bankrupt, a country where main income is cultivation, where woman liberation is less important than finding food and shelter; where a man is weaker than a woman ( because he had to earn days food for his family , for his woman, the woman will not listen why he failed to provide her days food) and you are bringing a utopian dream of woman's emancipation of her sexuality, her redemption, liberation.
People have long memories and much of the ill will shown towards Taslima has its origins in the northern district town of Mymensingh where Taslima grew up; the eldest daughter and third child amongst four children. Her family had certain reputation which made life difficult for a sensitive young girl. The root of the trouble was her father, a forensic doctor , Rajab Ali.
Taslima blames her father for his second marriage, but did Taslima refrain from her second , third , fourth etc marriages? Or bigamy, polygamy or amorous life beyond wedlock is another name of Feminism?
Faizul Kabir Noman, was a collector in the family of Taslima, he was proud of his sister who suddenly shot in fame, used to collect all Taslima's clippings, video documentaries and other memorabilia. Noman is confident that one day his sister would receive the nobel prize for literature. Most sisters would be happy to have a brother like Noman.
Taslima's mother Edul Wara Begum was married to Rajab Ali at the age of thirteen and Dr. Rajab Ali twenty six.
Taslima witnessed her father 'doing something' with their maid in the kitchen. Something as a little girl could not understand at that time. She later recorded how a young uncle sexually assaulted her.
Taslima told an American journalist Mary Anne Weaver, in an article published in The Washington Post in 1994: 'it began as a child, I am angry all my life. From the moment I entered puberty, I could not leave the house'. Weaver's article was ambiguous about whether Taslima was ever sexually abused as a child, although she quotes verses from the poem' the kings' House'
Taslima attended her PEN congress in Prague in November, 1994, eight Pen centers embraced her as honourary member. Because a sample like Taslima will not be found ever.
The women's lobby were horrified to learn there was some talk of Gabi and Henry -Bernard Levy going off together on a 'boy's adventure' style rescue mission where they would secretly land in Dhaka and smuggle out! Levy was no stranger to Dhaka and was very attached to the Bangladesh. According to Gabi, this was just a passing thought and embarrassed when he heard about the Quixotic scheme .
By the end of 1994, the Swedish monetary arrangements which had been supporting Taslima were drying up. Her expenses were high. She had to use her prize money and the royalties of 'Lajja' and other interviews.
The Swedish expected her to look after herself financially, and handling everything from cooking, shopping, dealing with media, paying her own bills etc.
Nasrin's success de scandale afforded conservative mullahs and their followers a means of increasing their influence in a country that is nearly 90% Muslim but traditionally nonsectarian in its government policies.
Nasrin was virtually crippled by fright after discovering that TIME reporter Farid Hossain had slipped past the official security detail. She shouted, "If he could come in, any killer can walk in!" Two months of fugitive life, in a hideout Nasrin has refused to identify, had taken a toll. During her confinement to a single room, she lost not only weight but all awareness of events in the outside world after the telephone was removed. "It was like living in a jail cell," she said. "I felt as if I was dying every moment."
In her own country, even liberals have been loath to champion a deliberately sensational writer who chain-smokes, wears her hair in a distinctly untraditional bob and, at the age of 31, has been married and divorced three times.
Ka and Dikhandita : she speaks out about a number of people she slept and dissected them before their kinsmen, they don't have a private life. Does a 'freedom of expression ' have a licence to enter anyone's private life. I am a man of very little knowledge I cant think of.
Her characterizations of men as insects and rapists, along with the darts she aims at religion, Nasrin, while intending to promote feminism, stumbled into a battleground bigger than she anticipated. Even her May 13 clarification of the Statesman quote rebounded against her. She wrote, "I hold the Koran, the Vedas, the Bible and all such religious texts to be out of place and out of time." Many of the faithful, however, see the time as out of joint. They have demonized Nasrin as a way of rewriting the script.
In the early nineties, her anti-Islamic writings, her radical feminist stand, had the fundamentalists baying for her blood. As senior journalist Afsan Chowdhury says, "the more she was condemned and abused, the more she became famous and her wings spread. Here was a woman who defied all norms. She was free-wheeling, sexual and non-conformist."
Afsan Chowdhury, interviewed Taslima Nasreen in Kolkatta, "it was a cheerless middle-class household that breeds rebellion, suffocation and sexual trauma." Taslima herself has written about her uncles - two of them who sexually abused her when she was a child. The same two, she said at an Asia Society meeting in New York 2002, were also in a procession demanding their niece's death in 1994.
Taslima hasn't only vented her ire against her sexual abusers. She hasn't spared those with whom she had relationships based on equal footing. She has had no qualms in describing her sexual exploits with a large number of men, some of them whom she married and most who were just casual flings or incidental occurrences. In her book Ka (a colloquial Bengali word meaning 'speak out'), she presented detailed descriptions of sexual liaisons with her lovers, many of them prominent personalities of the country. She has certainly named names. Caught off guard, these persons first cringed, and then were outraged by her betrayal. They had, after all, entered into relationship with her with acquiescence on all sides. They weren't the conservative community who disapproved of her ways.
The one time enfant terrible of the Bangladesh literary scene, now writer-in-exile Taslima Nasreen, has been creating waves once again. Ironically, the waves have been rocking the fraternity of poets and novelists who had once loyally rallied behind her, the motley crowd considered to be avant-garde writers in both the Bengals.
Her latest bombshells have been Ka and Dikhandita, revelations of the "sex, lies and more sex" kind, washing in public the dirty linen of her 'friends' in Bangladesh and West Bengal, quite unconcerned about her own not-so-clean laundry.
Taslima the Terrible strikes again!
Women in Bangladesh started off with a reluctant appreciation for her rebellious spirit, while in West Bengal, she was hailed as a modern-day Joan of Arc. People of Bengal
cosseted her, indulged her and pampered her to no end. Her vivisection of her countrymen was well awarded, a contrast to the treatment back home where she was condemned as a virtual heretic. She had even fallen from favour among her feminist following - they wanted no part in this blasphemy.
Images on BBC of her irreverently flipping through the pages of the Qu'ran, cigarette in hand, was too much for even the most liberal Muslim to swallow. And thus around 1992 she took up a life in exile, shuttling mostly between Europe and America.
Nasrin has been criticized by writers and intellectuals in both Bangladesh and West Bengal for targeted scandalization. Because of "obnoxious, false and ludicrous" comments in Ka, "written with the 'intention to injure the reputation of the plaintiff', Syed Shamsul Haq, a top Bangladeshi poet and novelist, filed a defamation suit against Nasrin in 2003. In the book, she mentions that Haq confessed to her that he had had a relationship with his sister-in-law. A West Bengali poet, Hasmat Jalal, did the same; his suit led to the High Court banning the book, which was published in India as Dwikhondito. Nearly 4 million dollars were claimed in defamation lawsuits against Nasrin by fellow writers in Bangladesh and West Bengal after the publication of Ka in Bangladesh /Dwikhandita.in West Bengal.
A fresh furore started when Ka was published , This time progressive writers who suppoted her freedom of expression. The Dhaka court had banned the book and all copies been confiscated. A senior poet Syed Shamsul Haq sued a defamation case against Ms Taslima Nasreen, the publisher and some others for 10 crore taka, Ironically, Haq had defended Taslima when she was under attack by the mullahs for her bold criticism of the Quran and certain Islamic practices.
The same book has been published in India Kolkata, with a new title 'Dwikhondito' This time, she added a few new chapters. Kolkata high court passed an interim injunction following an appeal by the poet Hasmat Jalal. Jalal filed a defamation case against Ms. Nasreen for Rs.11 crores.
What enraged the writers is the lucid description of her amorous relationships with a senior writers and journalists. Mr Haq, who is famous in Bangladesh for half a century as a writer, enraged by Taslima's 'character assassination'. Taslima mentioned in her book that Mr haq has confessed to Ms. Nasreen of having a relationship with his sister- in- law. The narrative as if in a fiction tells vividly about a real man in society who is veteran and revered by all. A sort of pervert exhibitionism by Ms. Nasreen.
In a media interview to the Bengali service of BBC Taslima said : " I tried to see them as human beings, and are they not? A man is a mixture of good and evil. Whatever I said about my own doings - they were misdoings as well as good doings, there were mistakes and wrongs."
The angry Mr. Haq said : " my fame has been hurt, my family honour has been belittled, and above all she has axed my elevated social position that I earned through my writing for more than 52 years. this is not just a simple case of character assassination. There must be motives , a deep rooted evil objective. Otherwise, why should she write such a book involving so many important persons?" Mr Haq was introduced with Taslima at a dinner after her marriage with Rudra Muhammad Shahidullah, a talented poet.
When Taslima was asked can she prove the fact, Taslima said, " I have not written the book to prove that". The progressive writers and intellectuals described that 400 pages of 'Ka' is nothing but pornography or autobiographical kamasutra.
Leading commentator and writer Masuda Bhatti raised a question: why Ms. Taslima passed nights at distant resorts with senior and elderly male writers, was she a child not to know what could happen? Did she want them to use as ladders or did she have plans to write about her experiences, in future?
Mr.Hasmat Jalal, the brother of most respected novelist Syed Mustafa Seraj, said he was shocked and surprised" I feel this is an invasion of someone's privacy, this is unethical, illegal, immoral," Taslima mentioned Mr. Jalal's name in the pages 197, 198, 231 and 232 of Dwikhondito, she confesses Mr Jalal had a physical relation with Taslima.
Many say Taslima will not be welcome in Kolkata anymore. This is a public sentiment against the writer. Taslima had created a hostility among kolkattans to cash her name and fame, the selfish woman.
Sunil Gangopadhya said, Dwikhondito is not a literature. It may be good to read if you are interested in scandals about some writers, but it is not literature.
Many think in Dhaka too" Taslima has gone too far or she is crazy" Senior poet Belal chowdhury, Who had defended Taslima all along as a promising writers said: " she has nothing to loose now she can do and say anything she likes, Because "she did not even hesitate to narrate the sexual relation of her father".
Mr Seraj said in an interview with Frontline: ..I am not saying the book must be banned, just that certain pages be omitted for the sake of communal harmony."
Sunil Ganguli, a famous writer, with 24 other intellectuals pressured the West Bengal government to ban Nasrin's book in 2003.
There was hate campaign against Taslima even among the writers, because she wrote about her intimate life story divulging her affairs with some men. And because some men happened to be known, so, Taslima had to answer why she wrote about known people without their permission and some commented that she did it to earn fame. Taslima defended herself against all the allegations. She wrote why she dared not to hide her sexual relations, she said that she wrote her life's story, not others'.
In Dhaka's literary circles she had never been known more than a mediocre writer. In fact, she was a poet and her prose pieces, which ironically brought her to the international limelight, were certainly not her forte.
Even Bangladesh's leading outspoken women writer Selina Hossain finds this hard to swallow. Novelist Selina Hossain, says, "Taslima is basically a poet. She is yet to come up with a novel that has a sensitive perception of human life. Her columns may have jolted the social psyche, but they are certainly not literature."
So, what has earned her this international fame and acclaim, despite the notoriety at home? Her "shock and awe" techniques seem to have worked like magic.
'Ka' lacks the feminist viewpoint she professes to uphold. It is hard to determine what she is trying to put across - the outcome is almost pornographic in content and steps on more than just toes in the process. It is a sort of unholy emasculation. In it she writes of prominent poet Syed Shamsul Huq who, she claims, had been a father figure. He had called her his daughter. Yet we find her spending the night in the same bedroom with him. He has not forced himself on her, she is a willing player in the game. But then she brutally exposes this intimacy in 'Ka'.
"She is full of contradictions," says Selina Hossain about Taslima Nasreen. "She was willing to spend a night in the same room with Syed Shamsul Huq. She could have slept anywhere else, but she chose not to." Taslima has similar contradictory condemnations of ex-husband Nayeemul Islam Khan, novelist Emdadul Huq Milan and others. Have the ghosts of her past made the victim become partner and perpetrator?
Taslima Nasreen, in condemning the social fabric of her old world, seems to have played into the hands of the West. Perhaps this is deliberate on her part. She can hardly be cast into the role of a social reformer. She had ended up being the bane of the East and boon of the West. Her books may titillate, but they have failed to attain the depth demanded of a reformer, a revolutionary. Perhaps she was never that. Perhaps that was just a façade put up by her puppeteers. (Monday October 04 2004, The writer Ayesha Kabir is an Editor of the Dhaka-based PROBE News Magazine. )
If India glorified Taslima Nasreen when her fellow countrymen decried her, bestowing her with literary awards and the like, that was just a mere shadow of things to come. The West has almost canonized her, lifting her to heights she hitherto hadn't dreamed of. She was hailed as the champion of the feminist movement, as a writer with a cause. Her Lajja (Shame) and its translations sold like hotcakes. It was the nexus of condemnation from the religious zealots, and kudos from the welcoming arms of the west, that brought her more and more into the limelight.
With the likes of writer Sunil Gangapadhaya as her patrons in West Bengal, Nasreen continued in her popularity here. Even Ka was hailed for its honesty and boldness in exposing the smut of the Bangladeshi babus. But the smirks of their comrades in west bengal soon faded when Taslima came up with her next shocker - Dikhandito, which literary means dissected. This time her amorous frolics with the literati of Kolkata was up in the stands for all to see. It was a lowdown on the Kolkatta highbrows. It didn't take long for the authorities there to ban the book.
Taslima Nasreen, raised a storm when she declared: "Women should also rape men." In the incident that spurred her remark, the accused, Dhananjoy, raped and killed Hethal Parekh, a school girl. Speaking on the incident, Nasreen said: "Every male contains a Dhananjoy inside him. Women should rape men just like men rape women. It would be a way to protest against men's behavior." When asked to elaborate, Nasreen said that women can get a man to bed by alluring and seducing him. She questioned why men had to force themselves on a woman.
What a wonderful solution by a woman who says she is a feminist! I hope she is fully possessed with ghost of Islam, an eye for eye, hand for hand … she expressed this rape as a way of satisfying one's desire for saturated sex in her poem long ago. The name of the poem is ' biporit khela' which means 'opposite or reverse game'.
On the other day I see at Ramana, a boy is buying a girl.
It is my deep wish and feel like buying a boy by Rs. Ten or five
The boy has (would be) shaven cheek, washed shirt, wavy hair locks
On the bench in a park, the awaiting boy bending in three parts on a high way
I feel an urge, to grab the collar of his shirt and pull up on a rickshaw-
And make him laugh tickling his neck and stomach
At home with high heel shoe
Beat him measurelessly and leave - oh, suck!
Using salonpus the boys on their forehead
Will be dosing on the sidewalk at dawn
Itching their bodies, the dog that is loosing its fur will lap the yellow pus
Dripping from the wound of thighs
And girls would giggle alike the sound of breaking bangles
I, deeply feel like buying a boy
Very strong and robust, hairy (fur filled) chest -
Buying the boy spoiling and upsetting top to bottom of the boy
I shall kick hard on his shrunk scrotum or testis - suck! beat it!
Translation : Albert ashok
Taslima was attacked by members of legislative assembly in Hyderabad. 9 august 2007
Attack on Taslima
activists of Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) attacked her at a book release function in Hyderabad. (ANI)
In August she was attacked at the launch of her latest book, Shodh or "Getting Even", in the southern city of Hyderabad by Muslims groups. Some clerics have demanded her immediate expulsion. At a rally in Kolkata earlier this year another Muslim preacher said the person who killed her would receive 100,000 rupees (£1,200).
Muslim intellectuals say the issue is Nasrin's "extreme liberal views". "She has called for the Qur'an to be changed. She says that religion is obsolete. She writes about the sexual relations she has had with other men. These views are too liberal for our society. They belong in the west and so does she," said Zafarul-Islam Khan, editor of the Milli Gazette, a newspaper widely read among India's 140m Muslims.
Magsaysay Award winning writer Mahasweta Devi said, "When the police are involved, then the government is also involved. The government has kow-towed to communal pressure. This is very bad."
Writer Sunil Gangopadhay said, "It's a matter of shame and regret that the unjust demand of fundamentalists has been met. This is improper. Why should the government bow to fundamentalists?"
Poet Shankha Ghosh was also vociferous.
"I do not think this is correct. An unjustified demand has been acceded to at the pressure of fundamentalists. This will embolden fundamentalist forces," Ghosh, an academy award winner said.
Celebrated actor Soumitra Chatterjee said, "Taslima had a valid visa for her stay here. She was not staying illegally. She was our guest. She should have been allowed to stay in West Bengal."
Taslima said it to deeshaa.org:
…………..I don't know who decides whether or not I stay in West Bengal. Some say the government wants to please the Muslims. Some say it's the intellectuals who're afraid, or jealous. Did West Bengal ever love me? Yes, she did. Annadasankar Roy, a famous free thinker, once said affectionately that "Bangladesh is Taslima's mother and West Bengal her aunt". When I talked of women's rights, I got a hard kick from Bangladesh and a kiss from West Bengal. Actually it's not the country which kicks or kisses, but the people. I have noticed that the number of secular and rational people here is far more than in Bangladesh. ………
The Case of Daud Haider :
October 24, 1985
This is compounded by the fact that he faces death back in his native country, where he had been imprisoned "for his own protection" after he was beaten by a religious mob, his ancestral house was burnt, and other mobs beat his family members, killing one of them. Daud Haider's poems and other writings have brought the anger of Islamic militants against him, and the government of the Islamic Republic of Bangladesh in 1979 impounded his passport so that the thirty-five-year-old poet can go to no other country in the world should the Indian government deport him.
The International PEN Charter enjoins writers around the world to oppose race, class, and national hatreds, and one of the oldest surviving members of International PEN, Annada Sankar Ray, wrote this spring in The Telegraph of London how Mr. Haider's case typifies current dangers for many Asian writers: "His position is similar to that of Iranian state scholars who were stranded in India after the Islamic revolution of Ayatollah Khomeni." Said Mr. Ray, "Many of them dreaded going back to Iran and their dread was justified."
Mr. Haider is not a political figure. He is a poet who has been literary editor of the well known Dacca daily, Dainik Sambad and has won the London Society of Poetry award for "the best poem of Asia" in 1973. His six published books are widely-read in Bangladesh, where they are smuggled in and enjoy wide, illegal distribution in spite of Islamization there.
She treated the whole subject of female oppression in her poetry, which she had by this time started to publish, and the evils of patriarchy were expressed in exceptionally explicit sexual language. In one poem, she depicts a man as a cockroach entering the vagina, in another she muses that "when a man is chasing/you, be warned/That man has syphilis", and in a third, "divorce letter", she writes that husbands "perceive no difference between the whore's and the lover's body".
These views received further exposure from 1989 in a regular column for the newspaper Ajker Kagoj. Top of her hit list was the Islamic sharia law, which gives legal foundation to the oppression of women. Her outspokenness won her huge popularity.
All the time she was gaining new friends - and enemies, and not only among the fundamentalist mullahs. Something of a liberal backlash has taken place as fellow Bangladeshi writers (mostly anonymously) have charged her with being haughty, man-eating (in a sexual sense), non-literary, self-promotionist and, perhaps worst of all, intellectually superficial. But most of these charges have little foundation. Only the first two really stand up.
At 32, she has been married (and divorced) three times, and the Bengali scholar Carolyne Wright recounts how women poets and journalists were often snubbed at literary gatherings as Nasreen chatted exclusively to male editors and writers. Nasreen dismisses questions about her personal relationships and about the apparent gap between principle and practice. "It's not important," she shrugs, waving her hand and wriggling uncomfortably in her chair.
Nasreen has been lambasted for the low literary quality of her work.
Another criticism is that the ever-provocative Nasreen has staged a rather rococco publicity stunt that has got a little out of hand. One American magazine even dared to call it "a smart career move". By way of evidence, it is pointed out that the death threats were never meant to be taken seriously, that many Bangladeshi intellectuals have chosen to ignore similar death threats against them. Nasreen denies the general point, stressing that "it is not my aim to be a celebrity".
In 1993 late September to early October writer Taslima was in trouble AnnadaShankar faxed PEN Centers London, Tokyo,Paris, Berlin,alerting Taslimas case.
Taslima Nasreen withdraws controversial lines from her autobiographical novel
November 30th, 2007
Sunil Gangopadhay... Taslima Nasreen is no innocent writer.
These exposures in "Ka", the Dhaka edition, with details of sexual encounters caught the famous Bangladeshi writers on the wrong foot, threatening their social and domestic lives. They denied everything, branded Nasreen as a sensation monger and got the book proscribed.
It transpires that the Kolkata edition dwells on the sex life of Prophet Mohammed, virtually portraying him as an exploiter of women under the religious sanction of polygamy. This prompted the intellectuals of West Bengal to recommend the banning which was promptly done by the Government.
the fourth volume will deal with the treatment meted out to her in West Bengal. A prospect that's already disturbing the sleep of many of the stalwarts who knew her intimately. Sunil Gangopadhyay, the reigning deity of Bengali literature, not excluded. His response:
"There are several reasons for the controversy. In this part she has written explicitly about her affairs with several leading Bangladesh writers, including some who are living in Calcutta. She has threatened to write another volume where she will be writing about her friends in Calcutta. I am not bothered about what she has written about other peoples' sex life. I am not apprehensive about what she will write about me. I like this lady. I have known her since she used to write poetry, and would come to me. I also liked her other writings, especially her first book, `Collected Columns' that contained her newspaper writings. Very daring, and the language was lucid, straightforward and for the first-time a woman was writing about male domination, as her own experience.
"She writes in first person. I enjoyed what she wrote about the sex life of some eminent people but what bothered me were a few pages about Islam in a derogatory manner. One can criticise and intellectually write about religion but one must know the situation because you cannot always expect similar response. People can be very sensitive, and their responses can be very violent. I was scared because it was published in Calcutta during Ramzan, and Id was round the corner. And the Muslims were very scared about this book. So I was afraid that any moment there could be a flare up, and I felt she should have resisted writing about religion, and the Prophet in that fashion. Then I learnt these portions had been deleted in the Bangladesh edition. So I said she ought to have deleted those pages from the West Bengal edition also. I don't care about other things she has written."
Gangopadhay believes, "It was a personal matter though I thought it was in bad taste. One should ignore it, and if someone is hurt, he or she can go to the court. But I did not demand a ban. When it was banned the Chief Minister of West Bengal public ally said that he had consulted 25 Bengali intellectuals from all over the country, and after he himself read the book he decided to ban it. When it was banned I was not even in Calcutta. I was not in favour of banning this book. I am against the banning of books. I only said she should have deleted those pages."
He reveals, Taslima who is forced to reside in other countries, is always hankering to come back. "In many of her writings one feels she is actually weeping. She is a typical rice-eating Bengali who could not adjust with her life in foreign countries. So she is forced to be in exile, which is a pity, and I feel sorry for her but if she would like to have any impression on her readership then she should write something worthwhile. But she tried. She had a good command over the language but she is not a creative writer. She cannot write short stories and novels. So she writes this kind of prose where at some point of time she must shock people or create controversy. She does these things deliberately. She loves it. If she had remained in the mainstream of Bengali literature she would have had to struggle hard to be bracketed with other successful writers. She has only written about women's liberation, which is a cliché, and titillating sex."
Poet Nirendranath Chakrabarty, Magsaysay award winning author Mahasveta Devi and artist Paritosh Sen joined activists like Maitreyee Chatterjee, theatre personality Bibhas Chakrabarty, poet Joy Goswami, artists Bijon Chowdhury and Prakash Karmakar to sign an open letter to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, expressing "grave concern and anger" at the state's decision to ban the book.
" Four days later, the letter, signed also by the likes of Shibnarayan Roy, Sukumari Bhattacharya, Shamik Bandyopadhyay and Jaya Mitra states in unequivocal terms, "The state government has banned the book citing a few pages in the book which apparently can create communal strife. We are shocked at the state's decision to interfere with and obstruct freedom of expression.
This is not in keeping with the democratic fabric of the state and its culture. People have a right to buy or reject a book. It can give rise to debate. But it is unthinkable that a book is banned in this fashion in a healthy democracy."
Many intellectuals in India from many states came out defending Taslima's case saying :
We, the undersigned, do not necessarily agree with, endorse or admire the views or the work of those whose rights we seek to defend. Many of us have serious differences with them. We agree that many of them do offend our (or someone else's) religious, political and ideological sensibili-ties. However, we believe that instead of making them simultaneously into both victims and heroes, their work should be viewed, read, criticised and vigorously debated. We believe that the Freedom of Speech and Expression is an Absolute and Inalienable Right, and is the keystone of a modern democracy.
Former PM Sheikh Hasina: Called Nasreen "vulgar"
Sunday, 13 October, 2002,
Bangladesh court sentences Taslima
The Bangladeshi feminist writer, Taslima Nasreen, has been given a one-year prison sentence on a charge of writing derogatory comments about Islam in several of her books.
Taslima Nasreen was tried in her absence by a magistrate court in Gopalganj, nearly 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the capital Dhaka.
The case was filed by a hard line Islamic leader, Mohammad Dabiruddin, who heads a local religious school.
Mr Dabiruddin accused Taslima Nasreen of writing offensive comments about Islam - and magistrate Shah Alam found her guilty of hurting the sentiments of the Muslims.
In 1994 Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's government charged Taslima Nasreen of blasphemy for some of her controversial comments about Islam.
The Calcutta High Court, ruling in response to a petition by the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, said the ban on Taslima Nasreen's "Dwikhandito" (Split into Two) by leftist-ruled West Bengal state in 2003 was "unjustified and untenable".
The court also ordered the state government to return all confiscated copies of the book to the publishers and sellers.
"The judges said the book is an autobiography and does not in any way hurt or cause injury to any citizen of India," said Nasreen's lawyer, Joymalya Bagchi.
The last time Nasreen was physically attacked by the Islamic fundamentalists in Hyderabad, the poet Subodh Sarkar told a TV channel, "Taslima is free to live in India. But let her be shanto (calm) while she is here." In other words, be a good girl while you are in India. Nasreen is determined not to give up being bad. She will keep writing what she believes is true. Let Sarkar continue to be "good", "proper" and "politically correct" when he is writing, Nasreen is incapable of such correctness. The secular establishment, comprising secular snobs of West Bengal, are at a loss when it comes to Nasreen.
After the controversial Lajja (Shame), Annadashankar Roy, the revered thinker and writer, had told her, "Keep writing about women's emancipation; that's not against Islam".
Taslima had expected to win her return ticket to Calcutta after expressing regret and deleting the offending portions from her book. But the Union home ministry is still looking after her at a safe house in Delhi while continuing to talk to the Bengal government.
The Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, said the book had been proscribed and a ban imposed on its printing. He feared that it had the potential to foment communal discord by those having vested interests.
The order to ban the book states that it contains matters on pages 49 and 50 which could "promote enmity, ill-will and hatred between different groups on grounds of religion, punishable under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code.''
"Therefore, in exercise of powers conferred by Section 95 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it has been declared that with immediate effect every copy [of the book], documents containing copies, reprints and extracts be forfeited.''
When she left Bangladesh in 1994, a Congress government in New Delhi denied her a visa and she had to wait until after 1998 when India went under a pro-Hindu government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that was delighted by her stand against Islamic fundamentalism.
Comparisons with the author Salman Rushdie, also in hiding from Islamic fundamentalists, were inevitable, The both authors were threatened by fundamentalists, Mr. Rushdie's writing talent, literary skill as a writer have been accepted very highly, uncomparable, where Taslima Nasreen is not accepted in her country and in India very poorly. but Nasrin made a clear distinction between herself and Rushdie. In October 1993 she was quoted as saying, "He has apologized. I have not and will not."
Following on the trail of Taslima, Ms Hanifa Deen questions the reasoning behind the international crusade to save her, in the process debunking much of the current thinking that has shaped Islam into the new global enemy. She discovers that the story of what really happened to Taslima is a fascinating labyrinth where memory and myth have merged, the tale having acquired a life of its own with a hundred different authors.
-The conventional story in the West holds that Bangladeshi writer Nasreen spoke out against Islamist fanatics, male oppression, and the curtailment of freedom of expression; was charged by the government with injuring religious sentiment; and was forced to go into hiding and flee her native country in 1994. Deen was puzzled by, for example, the lack of Bangladeshi women defending her, and thought there might be more to the story. Between 1995 and 2000, she conducted over a hundred interviews and traveled not only to Bangladesh several times, but also other places associated with Nasreen, and found a stranger story than she had imagined.
I have studied extensively the media documents published during last decades, I have not added my views here, all are compiled from different sources published in different times, I hope I shall add some more facts to portray Taslima Nasreen . Readers are requested please send your views to revise the whole matter in more informative manner. I also express my gratefulness to Ms. Hanifa Deen for her Book ' The crescent and the PEN' which had given me confidence to bring out this article.
- Albert Ashok