We, concerned scholars of South Asia, condemn the attacks on Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasreen, by extremist forces in West Bengal who claim to speak for Muslim community. Freedom of speech, dissent and expression must be defended everywhere and at all times by those who are genuinely and consistently committed to these values. The Government of Bengal has, regrettably not fulfilled its obligation to do so even as it disregards the real interests of Muslim communities, forcibly acquiring land for industrial development, much of it from poor Muslims.

We also deplore the hypocritical opportunism of Hindu chauvinist groups, including the BJP, who having themselves participated vigorously in attacking artists and film makers such as MF Husain and Deepa Mehta, are claiming to defend Ms Nasreen against Islamists. We call on the Bangladeshi and Indian governments to safeguard Ms Nasreen’s rights to dignity and freedom of speech and to ensure that she does not become a pawn in an ugly stand-off between Hindu and Muslim chauvinist forces.

Cambridge University (Dr Susan Daruvala, Dr Anuj Dawar, Dr Priyamvada Gopal, Dr Subha Mukherji, Dr Farzana Shaikh); Oxford University (Professor Barbara Hariss-White, Dr Nikita Sud); University of London (Prof Gautam Appa, Dr Uttara Natarajan, Dr Harsh Pant, Dr Sangeeta Datta); University of Warwick (Dr Dwijen Rangnekar, Prof Benita Parry); University of Minnesota (Prof Keya Ganguly,
Prof Tim Brennan); University of Pennsylvania (Professor Suvir Kaul, Professor Ania Loomba);Aarhus University, Denmark (Dr Tabish Khair); Queens University, Belfast (Dr Manav Ratti); New York University (Professor Rajeswari Sunderrajan); Hofstra University (Professor Sabina Sawhney); Stanford University (Prof Aishwary Kumar); Film maker (Shashwati Talukdar); Journalist (Hasan Saroor)
Hindustan Times (November 29, 2007).

Top - Home