The letter.

200 authors from 30 countries wrote a letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Authors have condemned Russia’s anti-gay and blasphemy laws as a “chokehold” on creativity.

Here is the letter:

The story of modern Russia is the story of dramatic, almost seismic change. Russian voices, both literary and journalistic, have always striven to make themselves heard above the clamour of their nation’s unfolding story – commenting on it, shaping it and, in doing so, contributing to the political and intellectual shape of the world far beyond their country’s borders. But during the last 18 months, Russian lawmakers have passed a number of laws that place a chokehold on the right to express oneself freely in Russia. As writers and artists, we cannot stand quietly by as we watch our fellow writers and journalists pressed into silence or risking prosecution and often drastic punishment for the mere act of communicating their thoughts.

Three of these laws specifically put writers at risk: the so-called gay “propaganda” and “blasphemy” laws, prohibiting the “promotion” of homosexuality and “religious insult” respectively, and the recriminalisation of defamation. A healthy democracy must hear the independent voices of all its citizens; the global community needs to hear, and be enriched by, the diversity of Russian opinion. We therefore urge the Russian authorities to repeal these laws that strangle free speech, to recognise Russia’s obligations under the international covenant on civil and political rights to respect freedom of opinion, expression and belief – including the right not to believe – and to commit itself to creating an environment in which all citizens can experience the benefit of the free exchange of opinion.

Putin abolishes blasphemy and anti-gay laws or not, this is a very important letter. Every injustice should be opposed. I hope authors also should write an open letter like this one to Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and other countries that have been using blasphemy laws to violate people’s freedom of expression and anti-gay laws to threaten Human Rights.

Gender-based censorship

The next guest blogger today is MEREDITH TAX. She has been a writer and political activist since the late 1960s. She was a member of Bread and Roses, an early socialist-feminist group in Boston, and her 1970 essay, “Woman and Her Mind: The Story of Everyday Life,” is considered a founding document of the US women’s liberation movement.

In A Room of Her Own Virginia Woolf asked why the literary and intellectual world (overwhelmingly male in 1929) was so cold to works written by women. She concluded that men need to believe women see them as superior beings in order to justify their control of society; hence evidence of women’s actual views is unwelcome. Silencing of women writers is thus essential to patriarchy. Recent cases of gender-based censorship, ranging from Taslima Nasrin in India to feminist bloggers in the United States, indicate that Woolf’s analysis still holds.

And what is gender-based censorship? The Women’s World Organization for Rights, Literature and Development (Women’s WORLD) defined it in The Power of the Word: Culture, Censorship and Voice, drafted by yours truly in 1995:

“Women who write on issues of state politics are silenced by the same means used to silence men in opposition, though, in practice, even these forms of censorship are affected by gender. But gender-based censorship, as we see it, is much broader and more pervasive than this official, organized suppression. It is embedded in a range of social mechanisms that mute women’s voices, deny validity to their experience, and exclude them from the political discourse. Its purpose is to obscure the real conditions of women’s lives and the inequity of patriarchal gender relations, and prevent women writers from breaking the silence, by targeting women who don’t know their place in order to intimidate the rest.”

Though much gender-based censorship today is done in the name of religion, its roots are in misogyny and sexual panic. Take, for instance, the US, where this month’s big story is “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” by feminist journalist Amanda Hess, who describes herself as a freelance writer reporting on sex, Hollywood, teenagers, and technology, and whose blog is called Sex with Amanda Hess. Among other examples, she notes the blizzard of online rape threats that hit Caroline Criado-Perez when she started a website petitioning the Bank of England to put more women’s faces on banknotes. Hess also notes the lack of action on internet death and rape threats and the assiduous passing of the buck between law enforcement agencies and internet companies. Last year, for instance, US atheist blogger “skepchick” Rebecca Watson found that the reaction of the police when she reported death and rape threats was to say they couldn’t do anything unless someone actually did attack her, “at which point they’d have a pretty good lead.”

All this can have a chilling effect on women’s freedom of expression. As Hess relates, “Threats of rape, death, and stalking can overpower our emotional bandwidth, take up our time, and cost us money through legal fees, online protection services, and missed wages.” Conor Friedersdorf postulates that such “gendered online abuse” may explain why there are so few prominent women bloggers compared to men; in response to a constant stream of threats and invective, many of his women friends “either shuttered their personal blogs and stopped writing for the public, or shifted their journalistic efforts to a traditional format rather than the more personalized blog format.”

The internet is an area in which censorship operates differently for men and women, for the interests of women bloggers, who need to feel safe enough to write, conflict with those of internet trolls who want to feel free to abuse women as much as they like. The feminist movement fought for many years to develop legal protections like the US Violence Against Women Act, which criminalizes phone threats, and recently proposed including online threats. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a watchdog group, opposed this idea, citing privacy considerations. But should privacy trump death threats? In the age of Snowden, nobody wants to call for more government interference in online communications yet, like freedom of religion, male self-expression must be limited by recognition that women too have rights, and that women’s voices—especially when they take up subjects others do not want to deal with—are central to democracy, equality, and the public good.

The same consideration applies to Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, whose censors have brewed a lethal mix of fundamentalism, political opportunism, and sexual silencing to try to shut her up. In 1994 Nasrin was driven from Bangladesh by a combination of Islamist fatwa and government indictment for “offending religious feelings.” The Islamists hated the way she criticized religion and the government hated her because she wrote a book exposing Muslim violence against Hindus, which the Bangladesh National Party government claimed did not exist. She was put under death threat, went underground, and became one of the Northern media’s first poster girls for Islamist mistreatment of women. I helped organize a campaign on her behalf at the time and, I wrote in 2002, thought sex was as central to her persecution as religion or politics:

“Nasrin did not have to flee Bangladesh merely because she wrote a novel about the persecution of its Hindu minority, or told an Indian reporter the Sharia … was outdated and should be left behind. Other Bangladeshi writers, male and female, have said such things; some have also been threatened by fundamentalists; but most are still there. Nasrin combined the violation of those taboos with an even more daring transgression: She opened the closet door on a whole world of subterranean sexual experience and feeling, much of it abusive, and none of it considered fit to be discussed. She wrote about sex and religion and state politics all together, and she did it at a bad time, when fundamentalism was on the rise. The combination did her in.”

Nasrin eventually settled in Kolkata ,where she lived quite happily from 2004 until 2007, when Islamists began protesting her existence again. What had begun as a movement by poor, largely Muslim farmers against forced industrialization and land seizures in Nandigram got deflected by political manipulation into a riot over Nasrin. The ruling party in West Bengal, at that time the leftwing CPI(M), found it a lot easier to get rid of her than to deal with land issues. When I saw Nasrin the next year in New York, she told me they had shipped her off to Delhi without even giving her time to pack. In Delhi the federal government essentially kept her under house arrest for months, claiming this was for her own protection while trying to convince her to get out of India.

One might ask why leftwing secularist parties like the CPI(M) and its federal ally, the Congress Party, would collude with Muslim fundamentalists to suppress free speech. As Nasrin says, it is all about electoral politics. “Who doesn’t want to get Muslim votes? They are 25% of the population.”

She stayed away for a few years, then returned to India and, being barred from Kolkata, settled in Delhi, where she resumed work on a projected TV series for a Bengali station. The series, called Doohshahobash, which means something like Difficult Cohabitations, is about a Hindu family of three sisters who confront various kinds of gender oppression. The station ran a huge advertising campaign, plastering Taslima’s face on billboards around Kolkata, and the series was to be broadcast in December.

But suddenly, on December 20th, everything ground to a halt when a coalition of 22 Islamist groups went to the government of West Bengal, now led by the Trinamool Congress party. Even though they hadn’t seen any of the series, they were so certain it would offend Muslims that they insisted it should be banned; otherwise people might riot. And, like the CPI(M) before it, the Trinamool Congress caved. A station spokesperson told The Hindu, “due to external pressure we have deferred the telecast of this serial indefinitely.”

As Nasrin noted in her blog, this censorship was met by a stunning lack of protest from Kolkata’s literary community. Garga Chatterjee made a similar point in the Indian weekly Outlook: “Kolkata’s current and the erstwhile rulers, the Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M) respectively, seem to be competing with each other in setting a record on muzzling free speech at the instigation of groups in whose worldview free speech has no place. While there may be short-term electoral gain for such posturing, this race to the bottom has no winners.”

The silence of Kolkata’s literary lions may have more to do with male sexual solidarity than party politics. Nasrin is not deferential and has always been outspoken on issues of rape, child molestation, and sexual harassment. The second volume of her memoirs, Dwikhandito, was banned in Kolkata, allegedly because it violated Muslim sentiments, but she told me in 2005 that the real reason was because she named names about sexual harassment and relationships within the literary elite. She recently accused a well known Delhi intellectual, Sunil Gangopadhyay, of taking advantage of his position to harass young women writers. Public discussion of this kind of thing is relatively new in India, where a law against workplace sexual harassment was just passed in April 2013, and a young journalist’s story of being assaulted in an elevator by her editor at the muckraking paper Tehelka made headlines in November.

A democracy’s commitment to freedom of expression can be measured by how it treats two groups of people: those of such low status that they have no voice, and those who push the limits of acceptable speech. There is no need to protect those who are powerful and those who never offend. Protesting gender-based censorship is part of mobilizing against rape and sexual harassment, for women’s freedom of expression and movement are related, and if either is limited to what does not offend, it will not exist.

Public secular space, on the internet and on the streets, in intellectual fora and on TV, is essential to the health of civil society. This space must be as accessible to women and atheists as to men and the pious. That means that men—including Kolkata intellectuals and US bloggers—should defend women’s right to a public voice, and women should be able to speak publicly without fear of violence. And if these women then offend against male amour-propre, hey, as Virginia Woolf said in 1929, that’s part of free speech.

Is anyone listening?

It is an interview.

It’s hard to miss her in Calcutta these days. She beams at passers-by from king-size hoardings at several busy junctions, anxiously marking her “return” to Bengal after six years.

But Taslima Nasreen is not returning to the city. Not in person, certainly — thanks to embargoes on her travelling and living in India. And not on television either, which had been promoting her as the writer of a mega serial that was to have been aired from December 19.

Despite the grand announcements, the show has been stalled. And Nasreen is furious. “Hating Taslima is an essential part of politics in the subcontinent. I feel pity for those who need to violate a writer’s rights to get votes,” she tweeted. “Whatever I write is hated by ignorant anti-women, anti-human rights bigots. Because they are afraid of the truth and the power of the pen,” said another tweet.

She walks into the drawing room-cum-study of her apartment located in an upmarket area of Delhi, where she has been living since 2008, full of misgivings. Just days before the serial was called off, she’d heard that the Calcutta police had met the producers of the serial.

“Some bigoted individuals asked for a ban and the state acquiesced — I don’t think this will happen even in Saudi Arabia,” she says. “But fundamentalists are anti-women and anti-freedom of expression, and for political reasons the government might side with them. But why are the people in Bengal silent,” she asks.

Dressed in grey winter pants, a black sweater and a blue embroidered stole, the maverick writer looks younger than her 51 years with her bright eyes and dishevelled short crop. She sinks into a reclining chair with a blue iPad in her hand. All around her are bookshelves, all packed with books. Stickers screaming messages such as “Atheism cures religious terrorism” are pasted on the shelves. Honorary certificates bestowed by foreign institutions, framed beautifully, adorn a whole wall in the study.

It has been almost 20 years since she was exiled from Bangladesh for “anti-Islam” writings and six years since she was ousted from West Bengal following communal disturbances in Calcutta’s Ripon Street. It was thought that she would return — in the shape of the serial called Dusahobas or unbearable co-existence, which was to be aired on Aakash Aath and promoted as a serial radically different from the regular saas-bahu stories.

This is the second time the soap has been stalled. She began writing it in 2006, when several episodes were also shot. “But then the 2007 drama happened and I was summarily thrown out of the city on November 22 that year,” she says, referring to the Ripon street violence. “That brought the production to a standstill.”

She had then urged her producers not to give up on the series merely because she had been ousted by the Bengal government, which cited her as a problem for law and order. “Why should the producers, or any creative person for that matter, be afraid of negative forces? These are just fringe elements who would oppose anyone who talks about gender equality and social change because they are misogynists.”

She cites the treatment meted out to reformists Vidyasagar and Raja Rammohan Roy by “anti-progress groups” for their pro-women measures. “The same thing is happening to me — I speak about new ideas, changing society, gender equality and humanism.”

What riles her more is the lack of protest in Calcutta. “This is a dangerous sign — if writers, intellectuals and other creative people keep quiet after this, something is wrong with society. Society is on the path of decline — this is what the silence signifies.

“But intellectuals do not keep their mouths shut when Hindu fanatics attack writers or artistes, or even when Muslim fanatics attack male writers such as Salman Rushdie. Misogynistic society shows solidarity towards victims, provided the victims are male, macho or anti-feminist,” she says.

Nasreen alleges that her ouster from Calcutta was premeditated. “Few people know that I was actually put under house arrest for about four months before the November incident,” she says, adding that she had to leave her 7 Rawdon Street residence in Calcutta with just her laptop and a one-way ticket to Rajasthan.

“From August that year, I was repeatedly asked by the Left Front government to leave the country. They even used to send the then police commissioner to coax me; he asked me to go to the jungles of Madhya Pradesh.” Nirbasan (Exile), the seventh part of her autobiography, documents her ouster from the city where she lived from 2004 to 2007.

She stresses that the Ripon Street incident was not a “Muslim uprising” against her. “The original plan was to agitate against the violence in Nandigram,” she says, referring to the 2007 police firing in which several villagers were killed. “The outburst was actually against the government for doing little for the community. The CPI(M) was losing popularity at that time — so they wanted to use me to score some political brownie points.”

She says she was “deeply hurt” by the then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s behaviour. “I tried to meet him at that time, but he didn’t meet me. But Jyotibabu (ex-chief minister) supported me right through the end. He was also against banning my books in Bengal,” she adds.

Nasreen believes that the present state government is also following in the footsteps of the Leftists. “It never criticised the way the Left Front government wronged me.”

The author believes that her “persecution” in West Bengal began in 2003 when her book Dwikhandito (Split into Two) was banned by the state government. The book, it was alleged, was “anti-Islamic”, which was the brush that she was tarred with in Bangladesh.

Nasreen — who fled Bangladesh in 1994 after threats to her life — is, however, happy to have found a platform for her views in her motherland. She has been writing for a daily called Bangladesh Pratidin.

“I write a bimonthly column for the paper. I write generally on women’s issues, politics, etc. But I have been requested by editors not to write anything on religion,” she says. “For 20 years or so, they were afraid to touch me. But now I can reach out to my fans in Bangladesh.”

However, Nasreen is worried about Pan- Islamists, believers in Muslim brotherhood, who, she says, have been “growing at an alarming rate” in Bangladesh. “They are far more radical than what they were in 1971,” she says. At the same time, she is concerned about the path being taken by the “secularists” of Bangladesh.

“They are rejoicing at Abdul Kader Mullah’s death,” she says, referring to a Bangladeshi Islamist leader who was hanged earlier this month for war crimes in 1971. “But my point is that death penalty to such people won’t solve anything unless a forceful attempt is made to secularise society.”

Her “secularist fans” in Bangladesh, she adds, are “shocked” by her opposition to the death penalty. “They say these are the same kind of people who drove you out of your homeland. So how could I write against the death penalty,” she says. “But I forgive these fundamentalists — I want them to change and be better human beings. I want jails to be classrooms where such people could learn humanism.”

She, however, is in favour of banning the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party because she feels it works “exactly like a terrorist organisation” in Bangladesh. “They kill people — take blogger Rajib Haider’s death,” she says. Haider was a Bangladeshi anti-fundamentalist who was allegedly killed by a group associated with the Jamaat.

She is critical of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s “so-called anti-Islamist” stance. “If Hasina was truly anti-fundamentalist, she should have first brought Taslima Nasreen back to Bangladesh,” she says.

These days, Nasreen has found new a forum for her views — the Internet. “I rely on Twitter to update myself on developments around the world. You see, I don’t really have many platforms to express myself these days,” she rues.

She also blogs on topics that range from violence and politics to science. She has been spearheading an atheist movement in Calcutta. “It’s called Dharmamukto Manabbadi Mancha and it’s unique because all its atheist members — 400 or so — are Muslims working for gender equality and other issues,” she says, adding that her blogs sometimes attract 1-2 lakh readers a day.

Her tweets too have landed her in legal wrangles. Two cases — one in Uttar Pradesh and the other in Bihar — have been lodged against her. “The complaint from UP was against a tweet saying those who issue fatwas and rewards on beheading were anti-Constitution, anti-women and anti-freedom of expression,” says Nasreen, who has had three fatwas issued against her in Bangladesh and five in India so far.

“What have I said wrong? These people who issue fatwas are roaming scot-free while I am the one who is confined to one place,” she says, adding India’s home ministry has helped her with the cases.

She hasn’t stopped tweeting, though. “I will write more tweets. Let me see how people can stop me.”

Does she ever feel like giving it all up in India and settling down in the West? “I travel to Europe and America frequently. But I want to stay in India for the sake of this country,” she says. “I want to tell the world I can stay in India because this country is a true pillar of secularism and a standard bearer of freedom of expression in the subcontinent.”

Is anyone listening?

Finally!

Finally someone from a hostile country has written an article which is not against me. All I heard about me for the last 20 years, is lies, lies and lies. All I got so far was hatred, hatred and hatred. Once upon a time, I was a best selling author and unbelievably popular among intellectuals and young men and women for my prose and poetry, for my ideas and thoughts. But everything changed since the religious fundamentalists and the governments started burning and banning my books and started issuing fatwas and arrest warrants against me. Religious misogynists continued using media, madrasas and mosques to spread lies about me to destroy my popularity. They got success. I was labelled as anti Islam, anti Muslim, bad writer, 3rd grade writer, vulgar writer, porn writer, slut, whore overnight. Slowly I lost all my interests in the country full of ignorant piece of shit, dickheads, faithheads, and filthy misogynists.

But when I see someone tries to read and understand what I write, it gives me back my good old days. I appreciate their efforts.

Taslima Nasrin thinks the Indian government gets nervous when it comes to thinking of providing shelter to the American whistleblower Edward Snowden. For that matter, she thinks that nearly every government or country around the world is frightened of the United States. Why else would Snowden remain trapped at Russian airport, unable walk free of it and into a country of his choice? She has a point.

Not very long ago, some irate Muslim lawmakers attacked Taslima Nasrin in Hyderabad. Earlier, somewhere in India, a Muslim bigot decreed that Taslima Nasrin be beheaded. The one who can accomplish the deed, or misdeed, would be rewarded with nothing less than a tidy sum of five hundred thousand rupees. When you sit back and reflect on the edict, disturbing as it is, you cannot but wonder at the temerity with which the so-called defenders of the faith have regularly taken it upon themselves to define the course of life for people who happen to think of temporal existence in terms of the literary and the philosophical. It is quite another point whether or not you agree with a writer. But it becomes a positive threat to decency and human dignity when an individual thinks nothing is remiss when he lets the world know that a writer who has aroused his ire must be dispatched with swiftness to the grave. Such a threat was held out back in 1989 to Salman Rushdie when Ayatollah Khomeini, convinced he was the new guardian of Islamic religious thought, ordered a bounty on the writer’s head. It was a bad move. It went against the principle of liberal thinking. It made Muslims everywhere shudder in unease.

History is of course replete with instances of individuals and groups and governments persuading themselves that they ought to be arbiters of the moral parameters which underpin, or should underpin, life. There is the story of Leni Riefenstahl, the German film-maker and admirer of Hitler (until the Third Reich collapsed in a heap), for whom life after 1945 was essentially a tale of vilification. There has been nothing to suggest that she collaborated with the Fuhrer in the latter’s nefarious attempts to reshape German society according to Aryan specifications. Not a shred of evidence has been found to implicate Riefenstahl in any of the crimes the Nazis committed in their twelve-year dominance of their country. But the film-maker continued to be reviled in her lifetime. In our times, the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, whose Nobel certainly ought to have come later, is a man whose running battles with the state convince us that the historical image of the writer being at the receiving end of persecution is a reality that has acquired permanence of a definite kind. Naguib Mahfouz was never in the good books of the regime, any regime, in his native Egypt. And if you remember the trauma that Boris Pasternak went through once the Nobel for literature came to him in 1960, you will have cause to comprehend anew the many shades of darkness courageous writers live under from day to day.

It is these shades of darkness Taslima Nasrin has been living through for the past thirteen years. There has been no official decree formalizing her exile abroad; and yet no government in Bangladesh since 1994 has felt any compulsion of bringing her back home. There are the bigots who man the ramparts, here in Bangladesh, intent on ensuring that Nasrin does not make her way back to her country. In the mid-1990s, with the Awami League holding political authority in Bangladesh, the natural expectation arose that conditions would be facilitated for the writer to end her exile abroad and come home. The expectation turned out to have been misplaced, for the ruling classes were afraid of the consequences should Nasrin return to Bangladesh. The BNP-wallahs, of course, were never expected to warm to Nasrin. And they never did. Today it is our collective reputation as a nation proud of its democratic sensibilities that stands threatened through the hypocrisy defining our attitude to Taslima Nasrin. By every measure, Nasrin is a good writer. In terms of social commitment, she remains one of the foremost defenders of courage as a weapon in the war against obscurantism. Yes, to be sure, there are times when something of the worryingly judgmental comes into her analyses of conditions around her. But judgement ought never to be challenged through a brazen display of ignorance. You do not finish off the idea that is Federico Garcia Lorca by pumping bullets into his head. You may find Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s views on the faith she has deserted repugnant to the core, but when you decide that she should die for her heresy, it is your attitude which threatens to become a good deal more reprehensible than hers.

Taslima Nasrin’s thoughts have never been repugnant. Writers, in the true spirit of a formulation and dissemination of ideas, are careful to state the truth. Any writer who believes that treading a fine line between truth and the lack of it is what the calling of writing should be is making a dreadful mistake. You are not a writer if you cannot or will not write in all the boldness your heart can call forth. That is where the difference between politicians and writers lies. A politician, with his sights on gaining power over the state, will hedge his arguments, will compromise to reach the top of the mountain. A writer has no such compulsions, for it is not the peaks he aspires to. He is content with the open valley before him, for in that valley he spots beauty he sings praises of and notes cacti he thinks ought to be out of the way. There is Ahmad Faraz in Pakistan. Courage in the face of adversity has been his forte. In Bangladesh, Ahmad Sharif and Shaukat Osman, all these years after their passing, remain emblematic of the principles that once underlined, and continue to denote, writing. Araj Ali Matubbor was an iconoclast all his life. In death, he remains an inspiration from whom men and women given to thoughts of life and nothingness draw a certain strength of will.

The bizarre spectacle of the severed head of Taslima Nasrin on a platter is an image that should bring men and women of conscience everywhere together. The man who issued that threat is a grave danger to decency, to civilised life everywhere and ought to be dealt with as such. For us, here in Bangladesh, it is time to ask that the state move to reinstate the rights of a woman who has been wronged for the past thirteen years, through opening the door for her re-entry into a country she was born in and to which her devotion has been as well pronounced as ours.

And much of the shame our impotence puts us to can be scratched away when, and only when, those who dominate Bangladesh’s literary ambiance in these times come together in a defence of Taslima Nasrin’s unquestioned right to be back where she belongs. And she belongs here, whether or not you like it.

Correction: I was forced to leave my country 20 years ago. I have been living in exile and prevented by the authorities of Bangladesh to return home since then.

Save atheists! Islamists are slaughtering them in Bangladesh! (Warning: Violent Images)

Four people were killed and more than 200 injured in Bangladesh yesterday as hundreds of Islamists clashed with police in Dhaka and other major cities demanding execution of “atheist bloggers” they accused of blasphemy.

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Islamists hate atheists. Their banner says, ‘ We demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers because they use obscene language to criticize Allah, Muhammad and the Quran.’ The banner carries the pictures of atheist bloggers. Asif Mohiuddin is among them. Asif was brutally stabbed by the Islamists a month ago.

His blog is known for its criticism of religions in one of the most conservative parts of the world. Even though Asif is a popular blogger, it is not easy for him to continue publishing his blogs. Islamic newspapers wrote against Asif Mohiuddin and his anti Islamic writings.

Cops asked him to stop writing.
Index for censorship is concerned about Asif’s freedom of expression.

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Rajib Haider, another atheist blogger was slaughtered just a few days ago, for saying state and religion should be separated, education system should be completely secular, and politics must not be based on religion.

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A few years ago Humayun Azad , an atheist writer, became the victim of a vicious assassination attempt by the Islamists.

attacked_Humayun_azad

Because of the recent barbaric killing of atheists in Bangladesh, Dhormockery, an excellent blog on atheism, created by courageous Bengali atheists is suspended.

Instead of saying ‘they are atheists and they have the right to express their opinions against religion, no one has the right to kill them like no one has the right to kill religous people for being religious’, the liberal and secular people who have been fighting Islamic fundamentalists in Bangladesh, saying, ‘ Jamaat-e-Islami goons are trying to prove they are atheists, but they are not atheists, they are good people (as if atheists are not good people!). We want justice for the murder of bloggers’. It is very alarming that the word atheist is considered as an obscene word in Bangladesh and liberal people do not try to do anything for the freedom of expression of atheists. If not now, then when?

I hope Dhormockery will start again soon. I hope Asif and other atheist bloggers will not be threatened anymore. And after the banning of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamic terrorist organization, the Islamic killers and abusers will go back to their caves where they really belong.
I am probably insulting the ancient cave people. They were obviously much better than today’s Islamists!

Alarming!

WP says:

An outspoken critic of Tunisia’s Islamist government was shot dead outside his home Wednesday, underscoring a deepening political rift between newly empowered Islamists and their secular opposition in states across North Africa since the Arab Spring.

Chokri Belaid, an opposition leader with the leftist Popular Front coalition, was assassinated in Tunis a day after he received the latest in a string of death threats and called for a national conference on political violence.

Critics of Islamists or Islam get killed, exiled, imprisoned, silenced. Sometimes I feel that soon or later the world will turn into a ‘land of Islam.’

Who is afraid of Muslim fanatics?

Most Indian films are unreal patriarchal musical. I don’t watch Indian films unless the films are made by excellent filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Aparna Sen, Rituparno Ghosh, Kaushik Ganguly, Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Viswaroopam is not my kind of film. I will not watch the film but I will defend the rights of others to watch it. It is a spy thriller film, directed by Kamal Haasan, a South Indian actor.

Muslim groups wanted a ban on screening of Viswaroopam, so it was banned. The film was also banned in Malaysia and UAE.

Coward countries are banning the film. Coward cinemas are not going to show the film. Almost everybody is having a fear of Muslim fanatics. Almost everything in this modern world hurt the sentiments of Muslims. The fanatics have the freedom to do whatever they like. They can make books, films, paintings banned if they want. They can threatened to kill anyone. And they can get away with it.

Democracy will not be real democracy, freedom of expression will remain a myth, human rights will continue to be violated if the authorities continue banning everything Muslim fanatics ask for. The authorities should stop bowing their heads before the weird demands of ignorant idiots. Islam must not be exempt from the critical scrutiny other religions have gone through. If Muslim fanatics try to burn the cities, destroy public properties, start riot, they should be punished for the crimes they commit. They have no right to escape the law only because they are Muslims and they have sentiments. Short sighted politicians who try to appease Muslim fanatics are the enemies of the countries. It is time to reject them. The world will be a better place if the authorities stop being afraid of religious fanatics.

Stupid Egyptian court ordered stupid death sentences over a stupid film

‘Seven Coptic Egyptians are sentenced to death by an Egyptian court for their connection to an inflammatory anti-Islam film.’

Stupid people protested all over the world against the stupid film.

Stupid followers of a cunning man have been burning down the towns, slitting throats, beheading people or stoning people to death in the name of stupid religion for more than 1400 years. They still don’t want to stop. Their courts are as nonsense as their beliefs.

Do stupid people always outnumber sane people?

Atheists are harassed, arrested, exiled, imprisoned, tortured, murdered.

‘No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.’Alice Walker

Indonesia sucks big time. It imprisoned Alexander Aan for saying god doesn’t exist. Now Mirza Alfath is arrested for criticizing Sharia laws on Facebook.

Atheists are harassed, imprisoned, arrested, tortured, murdered. But they are becoming more and more outspoken. It is a good sign.

Michael Nugent wrote: [Read more...]

God’s soldiers!

Unfortunately, the films critical of Islam are by the people who do not know how to make films, and they are often extreme-right-wing-anti-Islam or just anti-Islam-Christian-fanatics. Submission by Theo Van Gogh, Fitna by Geert Wilders and Innocence of Muslims by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. All these films are bad-taste-low-standard-films. Some film-makers dance with all-religions-are-good-only-Islam-is-bad song. Good films but very critical of Islam could have been made by creative, visionary, talented film-makers who have rational logical mind and scientific outlook. Unfortunately not a single good film based on authentic Islamic history has ever been made. I have been waiting for decades to watch an Islamic version of ‘Life of Brian.’ Where are our Pythons?

Islamists are bad, film makers are also bad. Islamists say they do not want freedom, they want Islam. But they want freedom to destroy and burn down everything. They believe they are allowed to commit barbaric acts in the name of their imaginary god.

Bad film-makers have the right to make bad films. But no one has the right to take away the life or property of another. God’s law forgives god’s soldiers, but our law must not.