The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Taslima Nasrin

Editor's note: we reprint today an article about Taslima Nasrin, first published on the IRWG website in 2000.


Anthony McIntyre • 27 December 2000

Taslima Nasrin, a doctor specialising in family planning by profession, is a Bangladeshi feminist writer. By accident perhaps rather than design she became the leading warrior on a major battleground where a potentially life or death struggle would be fought on the question of freedom of speech.

What crowned with thorns Taslima Nasrin's career and made her controversial was the publication of a novel about the suffering of a minority Hindu family, Shame, in 1993. It became an instant best seller but the government banned it and had it removed from the shops after sales had reached the 50,000 mark. It so infuriated Islamic fundamentalists that they issued a fatwa, unenviably paralleling her with Salman Rushdie. She left the country for four years but returned to be with her terminally ill mother. She merely wanted to live in peace and freedom from fear in familiar surroundings. Still, the hatred refused to abate, and after her mother's death she fled to Sweden.

If I told the fundamentalists that I had changed my ideas, they have said they would forgive me... I will never compromise with the fundamentalists. I will never stop my writing. I have a right to write the truth. Fundamentalists should not have rights to kill me for that reason. I will not let myself be reduced to silence...Don't I have a moral responsibility to raise a voice in protest? I will continue my writing and I will say what I believe until the last day of my life, in Bangladesh, in Europe, or wherever....Women are raped, tortured and killed by their husbands. I decided to protest against such inequalities and injustice, so I took up my pen against the social system and religion.

And now the mullahs want to take up the rope against her pen. But why should she stop writing? Obviously the gallows are preferable to giving in to that lot. And given that tens of thousands of men have marched the streets of Dhaka calling for her to be hanged the danger is more real than imagined. At one point preparations were being made for a mass picket of the Bangladeshi home ministry demanding her execution. Her big crime it seems is that of, according to one of two police blasphemy charges against her, 'outraging religious feeling'. That means she speaks with what the Independent described as 'breathtaking directness' to Bangladeshis. Those benefiting from the power structure in Bangladeshi society would not like that. Telling it as it seems to be - no thank you.

The North of Ireland intellectual milieu would suit the powerful of Bangladesh better. They would like the logic of the Good Friday Agreement applied to their situation. At a meeting in September 1998 at Oxford University organised by the Catholic Institute for International Relations and the Uppsala Peace Institute on the need for a Truth and Reconciliation commission in Ireland, one leading Irish participant stated that the Agreement is 'a delicately balanced compromise which can be destroyed by truth (...) honesty and straightforward talking must be avoided at all costs'. In other words we must all live a lie.

Given such latitude, every rotten dictator that ever lived from Chile to Rwanda, every practitioner of the dark art of disappearing political opponents, every fascist thug and racist bigot could all make do with their own version of the Good Friday Agreement. But sure it will satisfy us advanced thinkers of West Belfast and Free Derry. We shall settle for it. It is what we fought, killed and died for. It has put all those counter-revolutionaries from London to Washington via Dublin on the side of our revolution. They have all somersaulted and we have not budged. The socialist flag shall be hoist over Stormont. It just takes some time and craftsmanship to erase the white and the blue from the one flying there at present. But don't worry - that is just a red flag in transition. Onward to Socialist Stormont. SS Forever.

Could you imagine Taslima Nasrin ever writing that?



































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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

26 March 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Profile: Taslima Nasrin
Anthony McIntyre

For Freedom of Expression
Taslima Nasrin

Muslim News Interviews The Blanket

Who Fears to Speak
Richard O'Rawe

Dr John Coulter

Cartoons and Caricatures: An anarchist take on the cartoon row
Jack White

Taslima Nasreen (2000)
Anthony McIntyre

Who Said
John Kennedy

The Key
John Kennedy

Getting Away With Murder
Mick Hall

Will the Real Army Council Please Stand Up
Geoffrey Cooling

Upcoming New York Events
Cathleen O'Brien

The Letters page has been updated:

Controversy over the publication of cartoons

Stereotypes Must Be Challenged Openly


Message for Dr. Coulter


Excellent Work


Swift Satire Poetry Competition

Freedom of Speech index

19 March 2006

Profile: Irshad Manji
Anthony McIntyre

How Muslims are Caricaturing Ourselves
Irshad Manji

The Clash of the Uncivilized
Imam Zaid Shakir

Misunderstandings Abound
Mick Hall

A Vital Question Not Easily Washed Away
Malachi O'Doherty

Zen and the Heart of Blasphemy
Liam Clarke

Gerry Peacemaker
John Kennedy

John Kennedy

Closer to Home
Anthony McIntyre

Drawing a Line Under the Past
David Adams

It's Our Easter, Too, You Know
Dr John Coulter

'The Way Ireland Ought to Be'
Michael Gilliespie

Former Hunger Striker leads 1981 Commemoration March in St. Pat's Day Parade
Deirdre Fennessy

Corn Beef & Lunatics
Fred A. Wilcox

The Letters page has been updated:

New Convert


About the Possible Posting of the Muslim Cartoons

Well Done

A Muslim's Response

Straight Talk vs Orthodoxy

Freedom of Speech index



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