Three statements by:





C.M. Naim [] (abridged)


On August 9, 2007, the Centre for Enquiry, Hyderabad, held a meeting at the local press club, to celebrate the publication of two Telugu books, both translations, one from the Bengali of Taslima Nasrin, and the other from the Chinese (via English) of Jung Chang. Since the two authors are victims of persecution in their home countries, the meeting was also a celebration of the fundamental human right of free expression and political dissent. The guest of honor was the Bangladeshi writer herself, who had flown in from Kolkata where she presently lives in a perilous and uncertain exile.


As the meeting was coming to a close, Taslima Nasrin was roughed up by legislators of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) and a mob led by them in the Press Club of Hyderabad on Thursday. She had just completed her engagement when about 20 MIM activists, led by MLAs Syed Ahmed Pasha Qadri, Afsar Khan and Moazzam Khan, barged into the conference hall and wanted Ms. Nasrin to be handed over to them. They began throwing books, bouquets, chairs, and whatever they could lay their hands on at her. Some persons in the mob almost got hold of her but Narisetti Innaiah, rationalist and chairman of the Center for Inquiry, who was her host, shielded her. He was injured in his face. A couple of journalists who went to their rescue also sustained injuries in the scuffle.


Barkha Dutt, in a passionate and hard-hitting analysis in the Hindustan Times (August 10), points out, the incident at Hyderabad must be taken most seriously by every Indian. The MIM MLAs are indeed as reprehensible as any Pravin Togadia or Bal Thackeray. They should indeed be condemned equally forcefully and widely. In addition to public condemnations of the incident at Hyderabad and its perpetrators, it is most urgent for the state and press authorities themselves to examine the reports and editorials mentioned above and determine if any violation of India's secular laws has also occurred. Similarly, Urdu intellectuals in Hyderabad and elsewhere should undertake a more active role in exposing and challenging the violent and extremist views that are seemingly becoming more acceptable in Urdu journals and newspapers.


The first attack on Taslima Nasrin ended when the police arrived at the Press Club and rescued her, but the other attack continues and its target, howsoever unwittingly, is not her alone but the always fragile democracy in India. Any diminution of it will hurt India's minorities more than its majority community.




We the Muslim Intellectual Forum categorically condemn the dastardly attack on Taslima Nasreen by three MLA's of the Muslim Ittehadul Muslimeen at a Press Conference in Hyderabad. It is an attack on the basic democratic and secular foundations of the Indian nation.


Interestingly this attack was not led by any conservative Muslim organization, but was the handiwork of legislative members sworn to uphold the Indian constitution. Therefore this attack reeks of political motivations, both on part of the MIM and its ally the ruling Congress-I.


At the time when there is a national consensus that, there has to be a national effort to draw out Muslims from the socio-economic backwardness as well as a similar support for justice for the victims of the Mumbai carnage of 1992-93, it is imperative that Muslims focus their energies on issues of national consequence. The Muslim community would be best advised to see through the manipulative designs and ignore such minor and insignificant issues. The only democratic and civilised way to deal with Taslima is to either ignore her or answer her with the pen, violence is not an option even to be considered. This has been the tradition and spirit of Islam. (Feroze Mithiborwala (Convenor), Asif Khan, Hanif Lakdawala, Afaque Azad, Arif Kapadia, Irfan Mulla)




 ( New Delhi, 11 August 2007)


Triply condemned - for attacking a woman, a refuge-seeker and a writer (abridged)


The Press Statement issued by the Andhra Pradesh legislators of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) have not covered themselves or their party with glory by attacking Bangladeshi woman writer Taslima Nasreen, now in living in exile in India, at the Hyderabad Press Club where she was launching a new book. The attack on a woman would have been contemptible in itself, the religious bigotry and political opportunism shown by Legislators Moazzam Khan, Pasha Qadri and Afsar Khan reduces it to a level where even their own co-religionists, howsoever orthodox, would find it difficult to defend, whatever the real or perceived provocation.


Law Commission member Prof Tahir Mahmood has done right to point out that it is not persons of religion but political workers who have assaulted the writer. The fact that the party, which is confined to a pocket of the ancient city, is unrepentant explains more than any words can do the depth of its political vested interest.


But a very thin line divides religious fundamentalism and the politicians and politics that feed off it. Whether it is the MIM of Hyderabad clinging to a narrow ledge of power in the black depths of our political system, or the Sangh Parivar more sonorous in its might, or for that matter extreme and sometimes violent elements of other faiths, mother tongues and ethnicities, each one of them stands condemned in the civilised modern nation which Nehru dreamt of 60 years ago.

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