Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Arundhati Roy’s Statement in YJL Confrence

I would like to caution us all against looking at this issue, in particular the issue of Taslima Nasrin, through the single lens of a battle between religious fundamentalism and secular liberalism. Taslima Nasrin herself sometimes contributes to that view. On her website, she says: “Humankind is facing an uncertain future.” In particular, the conflict is between two different ideas, secularism and fundamentalism.” To me, this conflict is basically between modern, rational, logical thinking and irrational, blind faith. It is a conflict between the future and the past, between innovation and tradition, between those who value freedom and those who do not.”

How strange it is then, that it was the West Bengal Government - led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), a party that sees itself as the vanguard of secularism, modern, logical, and rational thinking - that banned Nasrin’s autobiographical novel Dwikhandita, not once, but twice. Twice the ban was successfully challenged in the Calcutta High Court. The book was published, and for four years people in Bengal read it and Taslima Nasrin lived in Calcutta. And there the matter remained - without incident.

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