Bengali writer Taslima Nasreen was beheaded yesterday by Islamist terrorists at her home in New Delhi where she had been living in exile. A video of the decapitation was posted on social media sites this morning.
It was inevitable. Author of 41 books of poetry, essays, and novels, Ms Nasreen, known for her powerful feminist writings against the injustices and inequalities of religions, had to live under a succession of death fatwas. She was forced to leave her country, Bangladesh, in 1994, not long after the publication of her novel Lajja, which she wrote during her duty hours as an anesthetist in Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Despite repeated bans on her books and threats on her life, Ms Nasreen never censored herself. Many people said that she was brave; others called her stupid. Everyone agreed that she was an extremely disobedient woman.
Ms Nasreen once wrote, ‘I am victim of blasphemy laws. These laws provoke people to kill us the blasphemers. There are cases filed against me by governments and religious fundamentalists in India and Bangladesh. But we are the people who are trying to change the society by resisting fundamentalism and advocating secularism.’
An atheist, Ms Nasreen was against all kinds of violence, including the death penalty. Critical of patriarchal systems such as marriage and prostitution, she believed in love, and, in turn, was loved by her readers.
Although she managed to acquire a semblance of domestic normalcy in her New Delhi apartment, Ms Nasreen considered herself “homeless everywhere”. She was never allowed to return to the country of her birth. She was also not allowed to reside in West Bengal where she had lived for four years before her deportation in 2007.
Ms Nasreen, however, had a great sense of humor. It could be sensed in the extremely graphic video of her execution. Bemused with her masked assassin struggling with his rather blunt blade, she asked him to pick up a much sharper knife from her kitchen that she had got from Germany.
Ms Nasreen had donated her body for research to a medical college in Kolkata, but the West Bengal government is reluctant to receive her. Her own country, too, does not want to do anything with her. At the moment, Ms Nasreen is lying unclaimed in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.