Taslima Nasrin, made a surprise appearance at an unscheduled event on the last day of the festival and reiterated her stands against all forms of fanaticism, whether perpetrated by Muslim or Hindu extremists, and also spoke about her love for India, her support for a uniform civil code, and her continued fight for women’s rights. This staunch belief in women’s rights is what propels her to speak up for a uniform civil code in India.
“Muslim personal laws... actually run against women. Hindu shastras also do not give any freedom to women. In Bangladesh, Hindu women do not have right to divorce their husbands or any rights to their father’s property. In India, you now have modern law and Hindu women are getting equal rights. But why shouldn’t Muslim women have the same democratic rights?” she asked. “Some fanatics don’t want it for selfish reasons, but why do you, Indian secular people not want a uniform civil code?” she asked.
Nasrin reiterated her belief in “absolute freedom of expression,” and championed it by speaking without holding back. She came down strongly on fanatics, both Muslim and Hindu, and also those who claim to be secular. She spoke of the time Syed Noorur Rehaman Barkati issued a fatwa against her in Kolkata and the alleged inaction on the part of the state and the law enforcement.
“People (in India) proudly say this country is secular, the state is secular. What do you mean by secularism? Secularism means that you have to encourage Muslim fanatics who issue fatwas against people? Who set a price on writers? Here, Muslim fanatics, whatever crime they commit, will not get punished. Rather the victim will be punished,” she said.
She alleged this was a ploy to bank Muslim votes – a reason why many in power do not fiercely oppose fanaticism. She also said it was not just Muslims but Hindu fundamentalists too who have troubled her. “You call yourselves secular, but you don’t see it when I get attacked by Hindu fanatics. You only see it when I get attacked by Muslim fanatics,” said Nasrin who added that she criticized religions as most are anti-women.
Though the audience appreciated the unscheduled event, pockets of protest were reported outside the venue. About 20 representatives of organisations like the Rajasthan Muslim forum, the Mili Council, the Tahfuz-e-Iman, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the SDPI, the popular front, the Muslim personal law board, and the Mansuri Samaj raising slogans outside Diggi Palace against Nasrin and the JLF organizers.
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