Saturday, November 17, 2007

Condemning Assault On Taslima Nasreen

Condemning Assault On Taslima Nasreen
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Let me first condemn those who tried to bodily assault the anti- Islam writer Taslima Nasreen in Hyderabad on the occasion of a book release ceremony of the celebrated write. This is not the way a true Muslim should conduct against those who denigrate their faith. The stories of Prophet of Islam dealing with such people are perfect example to emulate in cases. The messenger of Islam never hit any one who abused his religion. So the over zealous followers of Islam who tried assault this writer has not done any service to their religion. They rather discredited it of being an intolerant faith. Those who have indulged in such fanatic activity deserves all round condemnation. In this universe there is enough space for those who follow Islam and also those who abuse it.

Having said that let me also say a few words about Ms Taslima Nasreen as well. The label attributed on her being a Muslim reformist writer is a misnomer. Such pretensions should be unmasked dealing with characters like Miss Nasreen. She is not the first writer that comes under the bracket of anti- Islam writer. Such writers have started surfacing in Europe since 15th and 16th century and as Islam spread across the globe, the tribe of such writers too grew in number. So there is nothing new about Ms Nasreen’s literary canvass. She should be approached with this position and none should get trapped in her Islamic name. That’s just an illusion to hoodwink innocents.

Now let me make some quick moral points. To me the duty of respecting the religious beliefs of others overrides the privileges of freedom of expression. This is simply because human dignity and respect should be the corner stone of all of human actions.

The liberal and inconsiderate body of literature that inflict deep wounds in the hearts and minds of millions of people cannot be justified as a right to freedom of expression.

The above position does not stand true for the Islamic faith alone but also for the believers of other religious faiths.

Now let me give some examples to illustrate my point. It would be highly offensive for a Brahmin to applaud a cartoon that shows a group of Brahmins having roast beef for dinner.

Likewise, it would be terribly repugnant for a liberal to appreciate the cartoon that shows the Taliban being honoured for blowing up the statue of Buddha.

An expression that denigrate, dehumanise and deny the historical reality of some ones religious belief cannot pass as a right to freedom of expression.

An after thought to this episode I ponder why the organizers did not made adequate security arrangement before conducting a function like this. I am sure they know fully well that Hyderabad has a sizable Muslim population and they have their sensitivity towards Ms Nasreen. Why the organizers did not made enough security arrangement to check unwanted people coming to this function: Why such people were allowed to enter their premise in the first place.

This makes me speculate that it could be part of a set piece devised by the author and the organizers to gain publicity for the author. They must have anticipated this may snowball into a controversy and Taslima would be in the limelight once again. This may be to provoke the followers of the Islamic faith and dub them as intolerant and fanatic characters. In the end the author has scored maligning Islam and its followers once again.

Let me also speak about the liberal media that had gone bonkers over this episode. Some of them had been intimidating the Muslim Community to come out in open and speak against the deeds of their community folk. They always says that liberal against the Muslim community have never spoken against those protesting Satanic Verses, Muhammad’s cartoon or opposition to Taslima Nasreen. They want that the Muslim community should condone all the three episodes.

Well the people who hold such views, it should be made clear that there is difference between the followers of the Abrahamic faith and non-Abrahmic faith. The two should not be equated by wearing liberal glasses. There are certain characters and institutions that are sacrosanct and their sanctity has to be respected.

The liberal media should take into account that Satanic Verses, Muhammad’s cartoon or opposition to Taslima Nasreen’s writing are all anti – Islamic in nature. If they want Muslims to relish them and condone, it is dictating them to shoot themselves with their own weapon

In all such episode there are twin sides of the story. The job of a responsible media is to bring out both the side of the picture. However, what actually happened is the 24x7 TV channels have play over and over again the action packed juicy visuals that portrays Muslims in their dark images.

Do the people who feel do not have the right to react? If they wanted they could have thrown the flower vases or their slippers or even eggs but what they actually did was to throw flowers at her and hand bags so that their protest could be registered. They felt agitated and that’s the way they thought of expressing themselves. Why there are expectations that they should write rebuttals and rejoinders to react in cases like these.

Well the human society as it moves on its infinite journey continues to grapple with the finality of such issues. The clash between the follower of a faith and those who abuse it is nothing new. The final judgment on such issues could never be pronounced. Let us hope and pray that a civilized society emerges where our conscience will allow us to recognize the fine line between expressing ourselves freely without hurting others.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai, India. He can be contacted at

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