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November 23, 2007


SAHMAT -- Statement in support for Taslima




We strongly protest the recent rioting in Kolkata by Muslim fundamentalist and other forces against the Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin and her subsequent "externment" from that city.  


As creative and thinking people we are convinced that an enlightened and democratic state should have the

capacity to ensure the right of liberty and freedom of speech to all individuals, especially artists,

writers, musicians, thespians, filmmakers et al.


In a civilised and modern world, while one may or may not agree with the views or works of any particular thinker, writer, painter, dramatist or filmmaker, we should stand united to defend his or her right to express the same in an unfettered manner without violence, threat or hindrance from fundamentalist forces and frenzied mobs openly exhibiting extreme intolerance, ignorance and bigotry.


We are happy that Shri Biman Bose has revised his statement asking Ms Tasleema Nasrin to leave West Bengal if her presence disturbs peace in that state. It still remains a matter of great anxiety that Ms Nasrin has left Kolkotta for Jaipur and now New Delhi.


What is particularly frightening is the fact that this is not the first time in recent history that such a situation has been created by sectarian forces and the reaction of the State has been identical. We have had to face almost exactly the same situation in regard to the veteran painter M F Husain who has had to stay away from India due to the threats of extremist Hindu groups.


We welcome the call for giving Taslima Nasrin Indian citizenship in the face of extreme fundamentalism in her country. However, we would like to underline the unabashed duplicity exhibited by the Hindu fundamentalist forces in this matter when they continue to viciously persecute M F Husain. As Gandhiji said, Truth, after all, is Indivisible.