Selective secularism

An Indian site reports on an interview with Taslima in which she says Indian secularism is too selective. It has video of that part of the interview (which is in English) and a transcript.

Sagarika Ghose:Do you believe secularists in India are selective?

Taslima Nasrin: I think secularists in India are selective. I don’t think they are true secularists. I criticise Muslim fundamentalism as well as Hindu fundamentalism. Indian secularists defend those people who are attacked by Hindu fundamentalists but they do not defend writers and authors, filmmakers and people who are attacked by Muslim fundamentalists. This is very alarming.

Taslima has a much more extended version of her thoughts on her blog, which is right next door here.

Writers should have the right to write whatever they like. Everyone should have the right to offend people. Without the right to offend, freedom of expression does not exist. Nobody should have the right to spend his or her entire life without being offended. Don’t we all know that if “Free Speech” means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not like to hear! Without hurting the sentiments of misogynists, obscurantists, ignorant irrationalists — you will not be able to bring change in society. Throughout history always some people’s sentiments were hurt – had to be hurt – especially when society was about to change. In this country when sati was abolished, or girls’ education started, many misogynist sentiments were hurt. But should we care about their so called sentiments or should we help society to evolve, to make the world a better place?

Yes but sincere religious beliefs.

It is dangerous if the government tries to deny people’s freedom of expression in order to protect the sentiments of those who don’t believe in democracy. Many of my books are banned in Bangladesh. My book was banned in West Bengal too. The government of West Bengal not only banned my book, it forced me to leave the state too. The new government banned the release of my book Nirbasan in 2012 and a few months ago forced a TV channel called Akash Ath to stop telecast of a mega serial written by me. The serial was about women’s struggle and how three sisters living in Kolkata fight against patriarchal oppression to live their lives with dignity and honour. She (Mamata Banerjee) banned me in order to appease some misogynist mullahs.

And it’s a god damn outrage.



  1. Ek Chakkar says

    The withdrawal of “The Hindus” is the result of a bad law. Indian secularists want badly to blame ‘Hindu’ fundamentalists for their own failure and incompetence in protecting free speech during the more-than 50 years of 66 in which they’ve been in power nationally.

    It is under leftists in West Bengal that Muslim fundamentalists gained most power to suppress free speech there. This is in a state where the people are known for being born with an artistic gene.

    Where were all the secularists when Taslima Nasreen’s TV serial was cancelled because of pressure from religious groups? Why is it only with this book-withdrawal fiasco that the network of global secularists are highlighting Nasreen’s plight of just a few months back?

    The hypocrisy of Indian secularists is only matched by the selective outrage of the global network to which they are connected. They create a global firestorm over a book that is not banned but stay completely quiet when religious bigots pressure cancellation of Nasreen’s TV serial. The fact is that if Nasreen had not given this interview to IBN-CNN, she would not be mentioned in the same breath as Wendy Doniger. Nasreen’s persecution has been very real all along, though.

  2. Ek Chakkar says

    @#3 and #4

    That’s why I didn’t single you out. My rant is more about the secular narrative overall, spanning decades. For example, over the last 50 years (especially Cold War), I found relatively little writing or lengthy periods of secular narratives in the bastion of secularism, Anglo-West, of the annihilation of ‘Hindu’ culture and population in Pakistan. I’m left to speculate that the remaining alternative amongst many explanations must be true: that Pakistan was allowed to do what it wanted to its sizeable ‘Hindu’ minority by Western sponsors because the larger Cold War objectives in the Subcontinent (containing USSR and punishing India for being socialist) took precedence.

    What is frustrating is that global secularists have preferred to see ‘Hinduism’ and secularism as two opposing ideologies. If they were, Nasreen would not be enjoying widespread support amongst ordinary ‘Hindus’. It seems that they have become used to the enemy they created in their minds. It’s an enemy that has never existed.


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