When she continued to refuse to make a religious vow

Remember the attack on Zainub Dala last month? After she said at a writers’ festival in Durban that one of the many writers she admired was Salman Rushdie? Well now, according to PEN America, she’s been shoved into a mental institution. Bookslive.co.za reports:

Now, according to PEN America, the shocking news has come about that Dala has been put under “extreme pressure” by members of the Muslim community in Durban to “renounce her statement about Rushdie’s work” and “to make a public vow of religious loyalty to Islam”.

When she refused, she was apparently admitted to a mental institution.

PEN America has called for Dala’s “immediate and unconditional release” and has also called on President Jacob Zuma and the South African Authorities to “ensure Ms Dala’s safety and to prevent reprisals against her freedom of expression and thought”.

The PEN statement:

PEN American Center expressed outrage at the harassment and confinement in a mental institution of South African psychologist and novelist Zainub Priya Dala (ZP Dala) exacted in reprisal for her comments in appreciation of the writing of former PEN American Center President Salman Rushdie. Speaking at a literary event at a school several weeks ago, Dala voiced public appreciation for Rushdie’s work. Shortly thereafter she was the victim of a violent attack in which the assailants referenced her praise for Rushdie. She was hit in the face with a brick and had a knife held to her throat, resulting in a broken cheekbone. Regrettably, rather than rallying around Dala, some members of the local Muslim community in Durban, South Africa, have ostracized Dala, putting her under extreme pressure to renounce her statement about Rushdie’s work, to repent for her “sins,” and to make a public vow of religious loyalty to Islam. When she continued to refuse to make a religious vow or other statements inconsistent with her personal beliefs she was admitted to a mental institution.  A psychologist by profession, Dala is the mother of a young child and ultimately consented to go to the hospital to avoid intense and intrusive harassment at her home. She also reports continued questioning about her beliefs by hospital staff.

It just never ends.


  1. Blanche Quizno says

    Whatever happened to “no coercion in matters of religion”?

    Allah says: “Let there be no compulsion in religion. (Qur’an 2:256)

    Why aren’t these Muslims afraid of what Allah will do to them for doing the opposite of what Allah has commanded??

    Are the Muslims still trying to claim that Islam is the “religion of peace”? Cuz it sure doesn’t look like it!

  2. says

    You’re assuming that these people have actually read the Qur’an. Going by the example of Christians, there’s every reason to think that the average believer has only read a few exerpts, hand-picked and interpreted by the clergy.

    That’s why the bible was originally kept in Latin and, presumably, why the Qur’an only exists in the classic Arabic. Any translation isn’t the true Qur’an, so if a believer reads this passage in their own language, the leaders can just claim that it’s a mistranslation, leaving out an important nuance or whatever.

  3. says

    The idea that someone is “born into” a religion – and can’t get out sounds scarily like … slavery. Or nationalism. All are bad ideas.

  4. johnthedrunkard says

    The ‘no compulsion’ seems to refer to actual belief. The thugs realize that can’t compel anyone to actually accept their superstition.

    Instead, public subservience CAN be compelled. You are entirely ‘free’ under Islamic rule: free to be murdered as a kaffir; free to convert; free to accept second class status and pay tribute for the privilege of surviving.

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