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Left ban on book was vote bank politics: Taslima
By Sujoy Dhar, Indo-Asian News Service
Kolkata, Sep 27 (IANS) Hitting out at West Bengal's communist government, exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen says that it was "beyond her wildest imagination" that even it could act like fundamentalists and ban her book.
Emboldened by the Calcutta High Court order quashing a ban on her book by the West Bengal government, Nasreen said if the ruling communists had proscribed her book to appease some fundamentalists then they were not real friends of Muslims.
"When I was hearing the verdict of the Calcutta High Court Friday, I was not too excited or overcome with emotions; it was expected. It was a verdict for democracy in a democratic nation," Nasreen told IANS in an interview late Monday night.
Now penning the fifth volume of her seven-part autobiographical account "Ami Bhalo Achi, Tum Bhalo Theko, Priyo Desh" (I am fine, take care, my beloved country) that would capture her life in exile in Europe between 1994 and 1997, Nasreen said the communists were pandering to a handful of fundamentalists just to garner some votes.
The high court Friday quashed the ban on "Dwikhondito" (Split into Two) imposed by the state government in 2003 on grounds that its harsh take on how women were treated under Islam offended Muslims and could cause unrest in the state, which borders Bangladesh.
"Women are worst victims of Islam," reiterated Nasreen, the ban on whose book came after an Indian poet, Syed Hasmat Jalal, sued her for allegedly making up a sexual relationship between them.
"It was beyond my wildest imagination that even the communists could act like fundamentalists and ban my book. I was speechless when it was banned and I learnt later from many others that the leftists were actually pursuing vote bank politics," Nasreen said between entertaining guests and taking calls at her cosy rented apartment in central Kolkata.
"No society can progress by being indulgent to fundamentalists. Muslims would be the worst sufferers if Islamic fundamentalism is provided fodder because Islam harms the Muslims most and not people from other religions."
According to Nasreen, who leaves for France Wednesday to attend a series of seminars on feminism and humanism, " the so-called atheists (communists) here were out to protect the religious sentiments of the Muslims more than the practising Muslims themselves. I am surprised that one can cause such harm to society just for votes."
The 395-page book was also banned in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where it was published under the title "Ka", after Islamic fundamentalists objected.
Nasreen fled her native country in 1994 after her book, "Lajja," or "Shame," dealing with the plight of Hindus in Bangladesh, angered Muslim hardliners who threatened to kill her.
"If you really want the good of a Muslim, then advise him anything but being religious," said Nasreen, who is seeking Indian citizenship to stay permanently in the country. This time she is in India on a yearlong entry visa.
But Nasreen sounded frustrated when she said that her appeal for Indian citizenship had made no progress yet.
"I have not heard from them yet," said the author, who wants to stay in Kolkata as long as possible because of Bengali language and culture.
Nasreen, who was earlier sounded by Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt for filming her books, said she would love to see a good director adapting her works on celluloid.
"If some good filmmaker comes forward I would be happy. I am a film lover myself and have even started a film club here in Kolkata."