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Home > News > PTI

Victory for freedom of expression: Taslima

Supratik Sengupta in Kolkata | September 30, 2005 10:34 IST

The recent court directive lifting the ban on her autobiographical work Dwikhondito (Split into two) was an inspiration for people who valued the freedom of expression, according to exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

She said that when the book was banned two years ago she was shocked as it was the West Bengal government that banned it. "I considered it progressive."

Taslima told PTI: "After the initial shock, I felt protests should come from the people of West Bengal because the issue is not just the banning of a book written by me."

More important, she said, "It concerned the more crucial issue whether the majority of people considered it an affront to the freedom of expression.

"After some time, many people came forward to protest the ban. In the initial stage, there was not much protest.

"I think if the powers that be consider that the silent majority would come to terms with their unjust step, their notion needed to be shattered," she said. "Today, it is me, tomorrow it would be someone else."

"And to that extent the Calcutta high court's order has been a victory for everyone who believes in freedom of expression," she said.

The fiesty writer, who arrived in the metropolis on August 31 on a six month visa, said in reply to a question that it was not for her to see whether the court's directive that all seized copies of Dwikhandito be returned immediately has been complied with.

"As a writer I wish my readers get the opportunity to read the entire book. If contents of two pages of Dwikhandito are different from the opinions of some, it does not mean I will be asked to omit those parts," Taslima said.

She was asked to comment about the contention by the Left Front government in West Bengal that the ban in 2003 on two pages of the book was imposed because they would 'hurt' religious sentiments.

The court's directive made it clear that the state's apprehension was unfounded, Taslima said.

Taslima, said her next book, the fifth volume in her autobiographical series, might be released by February.

Titled Ami Bhalo nei Tumi Bhalo Theko Priyo Desh encapsulating her agony, wishes and dreams, she said she was busy penning it.

Speaking about other matters, Taslima said that though she considered India as her own country and Europe as foreign land, she had to wait an unusually long this time to get a visa.

"I had to wait for two and half months to get a positive reply to my visa application from the Indian embassy in Sweden," said Taslima who left Bangladesh in 1994 when fundamentalists issued a fatwa against her.

Taslima also said she was yet to hear from the Union home ministry on her appeal for Indian citizenship made earlier this year.

"Even a resident permit will allow me to live here in Kolkata among my own people," she said.

Asked about her programmes in the past three months after she left India, Taslima said she received an honorary doctorate from the American University of Paris and the Grand Prix International Condorcet-Aron award in Belgium.

She also attended many programmes by international NGOs concerned with human rights.

The writer had earlier received the UNESCO prize for 'promotion of tolerance and non-violence' in 2004 and the Sakharov prize for 'freedom of thought' from European Parliament.

The awards were given to her in recognition of her work in 'promoting civil liberties and end repression of minorities - religious, linguistic, ethnic and gender-wise'.

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