Friday, August 10, 2007
The attack on exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen has exposed deep-rooted hypocrisy with regard to fundamentalist protests against creative freedom in India.
Political condemnation has been not as vocal against the Muslim political party Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen's (MIM) attack on Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.
Though she stays in exile from her country in Kolkata, even the Left government had banned one of her books. Fundamentalism at its worst, ironically elected representatives of India's democracy saying they may be MLAs but are Muslims first.
Three months ago a fine arts student in Baroda was jailed and his works vandalized by Sangh Parivar activists for painting what they saw as blasphemous images of Hindu deities.
But here's the difference, the Baroda incident led a nation wide outpouring of outrage at this moral policing by Hindu fundamentalists, as busloads of human rights activists and celebrities converged at the MS University in Baroda to support the student.
In Taslima's case the activists are either yet to mobilise support for the beleaguered writer and protest against similar attempts at censorship by Muslim activists or don't feel as strongly as they did for the Baroda student.
A day after the MIM an ally of the UPA has been brazenly unapologetic about its ttack and the MLAs have been let out on bail in what seems to be tacit support of the state government.
The Congress has been guarded in its reaction uncertain about how strongly they should condemn the act.
''Writers have other subjects to write. Why just religion?'' asked Ghulam Nabi Azad, Chief Minister, Jammu & Kashmir.
And the Samajwadi party has gone a step further saying the MLAs were right, not surprising in a party where a minister announced a Rs 50 crore fatwa against a
Danish cartoonist for allegedly blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.
''I will ask the government to get her visa revoked. She should be thrown out of the country,'' said Shahid Aqla, Samajwadi Party.
Many would see this as political doublespeak on issues of freedom of speech and expression but perhaps no one understands the need to clamp down on Muslim radicals
better than the Muslim community itself.
''Those who think that their action is justified because she vilified Islam have actually done more harm,'' said Shabana Azmi, actor.
READ : Where’re Human Rights Advocates?:INDIA VIEW