Daily Dhaka Times: Bangladeshi writer-in-exile Taslima Nasreen has denigrated Indian writers terming them as guilty of double standards also said no writers defended her when she was pursued of Kolkata by Islamist radicals.
The writer, who was forced to leave Bangladesh in 1994 when extremists threatened to kill her for criticising Islam, made the comment while giving an interview to The Times of India (TOI), an English-language Indian daily newspaper.
In an interview to TOI’s Sagarika Ghose she asked why writers were silent when she was being persecuted. Here is the interview:
What is your response to the fact that so many writers in India have returned their Sahitya Akademi awards?
Taslima: Writers have decided to protest against injustices by returning their awards. There is nothing wrong with it. Sometimes somebody gets an idea, others like it.
Do you agree with the government that this is a manufactured protest with a political agenda?
Taslima: I do not think so. Writers are politically and socially conscious people.
Do you feel the writers were silent when you were targeted?
Taslima: Most writers were silent when my book was banned in West Bengal, when 5 fatwas were issued against me in India, when I was thrown out of West Bengal, when I was kept under house arrest in Delhi for months and was forced to leave India, when my mega serial for TV was banned. I have been struggling alone for the right to live here and for my freedom of expression. Not only they were silent, famous writers like Sunil Ganguly and Shankha Ghosh appealed to Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the then CM of West Bengal, to ban my book.
Are writers guilty of double standards when it comes to dissent?
Taslima: Yes, I agree. Many writers are guilty of double standards when it comes to dissent.
Is intolerance rising in India —Dadri lynching for example?
Taslima: Yes, I am afraid so.
You recently tweeted that there’s a problem with the way secularism has been practised in India …
Taslima: Yes. Most secular people are pro-Muslims and anti-Hindu. They protest against the acts of Hindu fundamentalists and defend the heinous acts of Muslim fundamentalists.
Should writers return awards when they want to protest?
Taslima: Come on, they are grown-up people. They should return awards if they want to. We cannot advise them.
Do you feel the Indian PM should speak more empathetically when it comes to Muslims and violence against minorities in India?
Taslima: Politicians appease Muslims for votes in India. Muslims get so much favour that angers many Hindus. It is true that sometimes Muslims get tortured only because they are Muslims. But it happens to other religious community too. In Canning, a Hindu village in West Bengal, was burnt down by Muslim fanatics in 2013. If Muslims were brutally persecuted in India, they would have left India for neighbouring Muslim countries like Hindu minorities have been leaving Bangladesh and Pakistan since Partition.