Shahbag is a new Tahrir Square


After Arab Spring, Tahrir revolution, and the victory of Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists in Egypt, I am not impressed by the crowd. Bangladesh’s Shahbag is now like a tiny Tahrir Square. Facebook and Twitter generation gathered at Shahbag to demand death penalty for Abdul Kader Mullah, the war criminal. He raped and killed people during Bangladesh liberation war in 1971, more than 40 years ago. The war criminal gets life imprisonment, but the Shahbag crowd is not happy, wants death penalty for him. As more people join the crowd, Shahbag starts asking death penalty for all war criminals. The fact is, all war criminals are Islamists. They did not want to be separated from Pakistan, a country based on Islam.

The Shahbag crowd is desperate to execute an old war-criminal-Islamist. What would they do to the millions of growing young Islamists in Bangladesh? I questioned. The crowd has made it clear that they are not against Islam or Islamists, they are against criminals, rapists, and murderers of 1971. The Tahrir crowd was against Mubarak but not against Islamists. The Shahbag crowd is quite similar to the Tahrir crowd. The Shahbag crowd is against war criminals but not against Islamists.

Four hundred thousand Islamists gathered in the streets demanded my execution by hanging in Bangladesh in 1994, much bigger than today’s Shahbag crowd. In 20 years, Islamists have gained their strength quite a lot. The Bangladesh government filed a case against me on the charges of hurting religious feelings and threw me out of the country. No government has shown courage yet to allow me to enter the country since then. Since then no people, no organization, no media protested against the heinous crime committed by the fundamentalists and the state against an innocent writer.

I believe if Islamists now want to have a public meeting in Bangladesh, they will be able to make 100 times bigger crowd than the Shahbag crowd. More people go to Madrasas than to facebook or twitter or blogs. More people are brainwashed to be Islamists than to be non-Islamists, more people are conservative, religious than progressive and enlightened. Much more women are veiled now than before. Now much more men go to mosques to pray than before. I lost hopes I had for Bangladesh many years ago. I probably should have new hopes, because young people at least are fighting against war criminals, a bunch of rapists and mass murderers, who have been forgiven, given opportunities, adored, respected, empowered by the worthless politicians and military since the independence of Bangladesh. I sympathize with young people at Shahbag, I can show my solidarity, but I can not support capital punishment for anymore, not even for the biggest enemy of mine, for whatever crimes they commit, not even for my assassin. I strongly believe everyone has the right to live. Bad ruling systems, bad societal systems, bad education or lack of education make people bad, corrupt, criminal, extremists.

I asked a Shahbag revolutionary, ‘Abdul Kader Mullah is now 64. He will die in prison while serving life sentence. Why are you asking for his execution?’
He said, ‘He will be freed by the next government.’
I said, ‘Then you should start protesting again the way you are protesting now. There will be second Shahbag!’
He did not like my arguments, so he called me bad names.

If those war criminals or Islamists want to kill a person, that is me, not the Shahbag crowd. They know very well who their real enemy is. They hounded me for decades. I am against all kinds of religious fundamentalists, against Islamists, against war criminals, but I am also against the death penalty. People in an uncivilized corrupt country drowned in Islamism get crazy to hang an old man. By killing Abdul Kader Mullah along with all war criminals, you will not be able to get rid of poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, patriarchy, misogyny, corruption, Islamism – your real enemies. Until you fight your real enemies, none of your revolution is a real revolution.


  1. says

    The problem is wider than Islamists. The Abrahamic God is a narcissistic, genocidal, sociopath and the texts about this God create such a dreadful role model for those that wish to exercise violence upon others. Just look at how much violence is unleashed by Christians in the name of God. The misogynistic undercurrent in the religious texts has also contributed to the most appalling levels of violence being directed at women. We will never create a harmonious, compassionate and rational world when such mythological beings are worshipped by so many and seen as inspirational role models. The only hope for a more rational and compassionate world is through a secular rejection of the appalling values espoused by the Abrahamic God that magnify all the worst aspects of the human psyche.

    I greatly respect your courage and would like to thank you for trying to build a kinder and more rational world for the generations to come.

  2. cchoton says

    এই দুর্দান্ত লেখাটার জন্য অনেক অনেক ধন্যবাদ। এই যুদ্ধাপরাধী, রাজাকারদের কঠোর শাস্তি হলে তবেই বাংলাদেশের ধর্মোন্মাদনার ভাব শিথিল হবে। নব্য-রাজাকারদের লেজ ছেঁটে ফেলা হবে। স্যাকুলার আবহাওয়া বইবে দেশে।

    • shahi says

      We must ensure fair trial. Whatever the outcome is only a fair trial can ensure justice. Bangladesh goverment is trying to diminish opposition voices by prosecuting the leaders of the biggest moderate islamic party of the country. The government already banned newspapers and facebook pages of opposition and they are not listening to international call for a fair trial. United Nations repeatedly asking the government to ensure transparency in the trial. Last week US ambessador urged the government to keep the tribunal free and fair. Government is not listening to anything. This is a very scary situation for Bangladeshi Justice system.
      The tribunal itself is extremely controversial. At the begining of the tribunal one justice resigned followed by the resignation of another justice when he was caught conspiring with goverment backed lawyers and prosecutors through Skype scandal. Economist reported on this issue. Newyork times and Wall street journal already raised their concern about the whole procedure and the Skype scnadal of tribunal justice.
      During the trial government abducted some important witnesses of the case from court entrance.
      This is the same government that banned all newspapers and oppostion parties when they were ni power in 74. Now they want to repeat the same thing. Trying and hanging opposition leaders is the first step towards that goal.
      The government is accusing 8 opposition leaders of raping 200,000 women in 1971. This is absolutely a false accusition. Kader Molla, a Physicist from Dhaka university, leader of Jamaat e islami was accused of killing and raping hundreds of people in the capital city Dhaka in 71, Infact kader Molla was not even in Dhaka during 1971. Prosecution could not even prove that he was in Dhaka that time. And yet they gave him 30 years in prison. Now they are planning to reverse the judgement, make some amendments in the law and hang him. This is nothing but Judicial killing of top opposition leaders.
      The world must act now to stop Bangladeshi regime from executing opposition leaders and ensure justice for every body.

  3. Alamgir Hussain says

    “Bad ruling systems, bad societal systems, bad education or lack of education make people bad, corrupt, criminal, extremists.”

    You put a sword into someone’s hand, tell him that using it is your sacred duty, and also warn him that if you don’t use it, you will be punished most barbarically.

    Then when the poor fellow put the sword into right use, you ask for his life and nothing less.

    How tragic!

  4. Milon Ahmed. says

    Taslima, It is your motherland. Shahbag is now like a Tahrir Square. The spirit of shahbag crowd is not only for war-criminal but also against fundamentalism. They want to ban religion based political party.

  5. rahaman says

    দয়া করে tahrir square কে শাহবাগের সঈে তুলনা করবেন না।কারন সেখান কী হয়ে ছিল আর শাহবাগে কী হচ্ছে আমাদের বেভে দেখতে হবে।শাহবাগ মনে হচ্ছে কিছু লোককের আন্দ উৎসবের স্হান,যদি সৎ উদ্দশ্য নিয়ে এই আন্দোলন হয়ে থাকে তাহা হলে কোন দলের হযে কাজ করা যাবেনা।আমরা তসলিমা নাছরিনের সঈে এক মত,

  6. Alipha says

    What would really be refreshing is writers and commentators like you trying to open up an objective, constructive dialogue with the Shahbag youngsters (not the tripped up blood hungry lot but those actually doing the logical thinking) and making your points on what should (and more importantly, CAN) be done, instead of simply passing off the entire movement as misdirected because it does not address what you personally want to achieve and think everyone else should. Essentially if the Shahbag movement aims to achieve transparent and law abiding trials, accepts the decisions of those trials with the assurance that they will be carried out in practice (solitary confinement and ensured life service), then they can move on to ask for banning all religion based politics in the country including of course Jamaat. Traitors of the country are simply bigger enemies in the eyes of the common masses than fundamentalists (not that they are exclusive) so it’s all about going one step at a time.

  7. says

    The Shahbag crowd want not only hang 64 years old kader mollah, demanded also hang all 71`war criminals including ban on the politics of Jamaat-e- Islami and its student body
    Islami Chhatra Shibir, all financial institutions like Islami Bank, Ibne Sina, Focus and Retina coaching centres and other activities in Bangladesh.

  8. brajanarayan mohapatra says

    I fully agree with Dr Tasllma and the root cause of the problem should be fought with all our might. The injustice done to her is what the Church has done to many scientists, who had opposing but correct views. We are to fight orthodoxy and extremism in all its forms. Death punishment is a form of extremism also. It should be out from criminal justice system.

  9. Orup says

    Seems like you’re just finding more and more problems for no good reason. Of course they cannot protest when the opposition is in power. Do you think we’d easily get to know of the bail? Do you think the impact of Qader Mullah’s trial would have lasted that long. Leave not what you can do now for tomorrow is the motto. Just because you are a free thinker who is looked down on by many people in the country, does not mean you can call anyone and everyone islamist or claim that islam is not a way of enlightenment. Let me make my point clear: You aren’t for Islam, You aren’t for Bangladesh, You would probably even have a problem if people were out in the streets protesting for secularism. Do you know why? And I’ve realized this seeing a lot of your posts… You scrutinize everything to the point where you find a loophole. First of all, poverty, literacy, etc… these aren’t problems that you can solve in a day. This whole “revolution” as you termed it, is not barbaric, is not pro islam, maybe there is a political agenda behind it, but even so, the hundreds of thousands of people going there are unaware of it, and uniting for the sake of one cause. Having an opinion towards everything doesn’t mean you know everything that is going on. It doesn’t mean that you are right about everything. You are a free thinker, but one who always has a biased tone attached to her writings. “Hot heads, and cold hearts never solved anything.” And trust me, the people at Shahbagh aren’t as hot headed as you think they are… But maybe you are.

  10. KKK says

    I was born born in west but still have respect for other people and other religions and you dont respect your own people and own faith. You are really stupid and handed over to KKK.

  11. Fuck you says

    This bitch should be handed over to KKK or EDL to fuck her to death:). They would like her brown skin and to make her their bitch.

  12. Shah Deeldar says

    Actually, you should read between the lines. Nobody is really asking for virtual death penalties for these genocidal criminals. It is rather a show of force to make sure that justice is done to the victims of 71. It is great that Shahbag is happening now. It reminds people that they need to be vigilant about Islamist.

    We can also say that despite the fact that Islamist has gotten stronger, they would not find a Pakistan, Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia next to their door. There will be no place for them to hide. If they want a civil war, they will get one! The final result would be pretty obvious!


  1. […] The Islamization of Bangladesh started in the mid ’80s. Most people remained silent for decades. Now some young bloggers and online activists started a country-wide awareness campaign against war criminals. A few of them are against Islam and Islamists. Their Shahbag movement could turn to a positive political movement for a secular democracy. But Islamists already have shown their strength by stabbing and killing enlightened bloggers. It will definitely scare many people at Shahbag. […]

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