Taslima Nasrin: Fleeing from a totalitarian and corrupt regime
by Giulia Mazza
The famous writer tells AsiaNews about her exile from Bangladesh, the country "nominally democratic country, but which in reality is only a corrupt government." Following the pubblication of her novel Lajja (Shame), Taslima had to flee the state in 1994 because of Islamist death threats. All her books are banned in her homeland.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - "Bangladesh is a totalitarian regime with a corrupt government. There is nothing democratic about, it is only a pretense it presents to the world”, Taslima Nasrin, the well known Bangladeshi writer, does not mince his words speaking to AsiaNews. For 17 years she has been exiled from Bangladesh and her family, after she was forced to flee in 1994 because of death threats from an Islamic fundamentalist group. Taslima, originally a Muslim but now a self-declared atheist, wrote Lajja (Shame), in 1993 a novel that tells the story of a Hindu family persecuted by Muslims. Billed as blasphemous, by the Bangladeshi government of the era (the Bangladesh Nationalist Party of Khaleda Zia, now in opposition), it was banned together with the other author's books. Islamic fundamentalists launched a fatwa (ruling) against Taslima, accusing her of blasphemy and calling for her death by hanging. Having already abandoned the practice of medicine in 1994 she left Bangladesh to live in India, where she also received death threats.
Taslima’s problems began a few years before the publication of Lajja. "My freedom of expression - the author tells AsiaNews – was hampered since 1990. At the time, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s government banned my books. But in recent years, Sheikh Hasina (current Premier and leader of the Awami League, ed) did nothing to lift this ban. My books continue to be banned, fundamentalists want my head and I can not see my family. "
After the death threats and escape, the author has lived between Europe and India, soon becoming a symbol of the struggle against fundamentalism, the rights of all religious minorities and women. The international community has given her numerous awards and accolades, but for Taslima the sense of abandonment is stronger: "In Bangladesh, no NGO defends me, nor has anything ever been done to remove the ban on my books. For a time, even in India I suffered threats and attempts on my life, and my novels were blocked. Yet, there at least some organizations have taken up my defenses, and eventually the Supreme Court recognized my rights and my freedom. "
"Bangladesh has a corrupt government - Taslima complaint - which in the name of democracy silences opposition by any means necessary. Even today, they pursue the human rights activists, imprison them and kill them. And no one ever hears anything about it. If you fight for the rights of someone, you find yourself forced to flee to survive. The few who remain, face constant threats. "
Despite the ban, pirated copies of Lajja and other novels are circulating in Bangladesh. "The government - Taslima known - does absolutely nothing to stop those who print my novels. I fight also against this form of lawlessness, because my books, if you want them, you can find them for free on my website. Why leave unpunished those who publish pirated copies, then arrest the innocent buying one of these books? It makes no sense. " Just recently, the principal of a technical school in Dhaka was arrested in possession of a copy of Lajja.
Today, Taslima Nasrin lives in India. "I can not return to Bangladesh - she concludes - perhaps I'll never see my family. But I have nothing to hide. My books are not blasphemous: I am only one absolute defense of minorities who suffer persecution and intolerance. For this I will always fight what is right under law. "