The worst form of censorship

Outlook India talks to Taslima about censorship.

For noted Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who has faced the ire of fundamentalists on several occasions, self-censorship is the worst form of censorship.

With attacks against writers, minority religious leaders, and atheist bloggers on the rise in Bangladesh, Nasreen says many authors have now been forced to resort to self-censorship to avoid facing fatal consequences.

“In our part of the world we have problems regarding freedom of expression. Many people do not speak what they want to. And, most writers in Bangladesh now self-censor themselves. Otherwise they will be hacked to death. But, for me it is the worst form of censorship,” she said.

“Even when I write for newspapers, editors cut several sentences before printing,” she said.

She points out the truth: no matter what you write, it will always “offend” the “feelings” of someone.

“My sentiments are offended by the death threats I receive from Islamic fundamentalists but that doesn’t mean I want to kill people for that. I have an inbuilt mechanism to face all this. The fundamentalists, however, are so weak that they can’t tolerate what I say,” she said.

Despite being a permanent European citizen and an American resident, the doctor-turned-author refuses to stay anywhere but India.

She’s very passionate about it. She wants to be where she’s needed most, and that’s India (since Bangladesh is out of the question).

Expressing concern over how more and more parts of the globe are becoming autocratic, she said the world was becoming a difficult place for writers to speak their minds.

“When writers like me are attacked here, we go to Europe. Now even Europeans have started having problems (Charlie Hebdo attack), so where do we go now?” she said.

She also called for a consolidated fight against the ‘misogynist’ mindset prevailing in society to “make the world a better place to live in”.

“If we want to change society we have to fight fundamentalists because they want to pull society backwards. I write for human rights, women’s rights and freedom of expression.

“For a change I think we should fight misogyny and religious fundamentalism, otherwise it won’t be a better place to live.”

Let’s do that.

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