We are not free until all women are free

taslima

I’m back from Germany. The International Women’s Day event in Frankfurt was wonderful!

Here are some photos of the event.

You can find my speech here.

Videos of the speeches will follow.

Unfortunately Taslima Nasrin and Nawal El-Sadaawi couldn’t make it. Below are their messages to the conference:

Dear friends! My Iranian sisters. You are so brave ! I am so proud of you. Sometimes I wish I could gather Bengali women who left Islam and who are ready to fight for our rights and freedom. It is still a dream.

When I am with you, I do not really feel I am an outsider. I feel we know each other so well. Our languages are not the same. We were born in different countries. But our stories are the same; our pains are equally blue.

I am so extremely sorry for not being able to come to Frankfurt to join you on the 8th of March. Muslim fundamentalists have been running after me for 25 years. They have been issuing fatwas, setting prices on my head, attacking me physically, filling cases against me, banning my books, burning my books, shutting the doors of the cities and countries so that I can’t enter. A fundamentalist has filed a case against me a few months ago for writing the truth. An arrest warrant has been issued. Until the case gets quashed, I am not allowed to exit India. This is the reason that I could not come to join the great meeting of secular women.

My sisters, I am with you always, all the time. Your fight is my fight. It is our fight. We need to fight against political Islam, Sharia laws, oppression of women; we need to fight traditions, cultures, customs that are anti-women. We must fight for the dignity and rights of women. We must fight for human rights, humanism, secularism. We will continue our fight until death. I, for one, will never be silenced.

We know that Islam should not be exempt from the critical scrutiny that applies to other religions as well. Islam has to go through an enlightenment process similar to what other world religions have already gone through, by questioning the inhuman, unequal, unscientific and irrational aspects of religion. We want equality and justice for everyone. We want to be treated as equal human beings.

We are not free until all women are free.

Sisterhood is forever.

Here’s Nawal El Sadaawi’s messages to the conference: