Police-vetted book festival begins

It’s time for Bangladesh’s annual book fair…but watch out.

DMP chief warns against publishing books that hurt religious sentiments

Legal action will be taken against writers and publishers if any book hurting religious sentiment or disrupting communal harmony is published at this year’s Amar Ekushey Book Fair, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia has said.

He made the comments while inspecting the security measures at the annual event’s venues—Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka—on Thursday morning.

“We have requested writers and publishers not to bring any book that can hurt religious sentiments, or instigate communal violence,” he said.

Any book that can hurt religious sentiments? That would be almost any book, because people who are determined to find something that Hurts their Sentiments can nearly always do so.

More to the point, if any place needs books that challenge religious sentiments, it’s Bangladesh (along with a lot of other places). If any subject in the world needs challenging, it’s religion, especially patriarchal religion. Is Islam a patriarchal religion? Yes, it is. Islam in many places has a nasty habit of grinding women into the dirt. This is, ultimately, human beings giving themselves permission slips in the form of “religious sentiments,” but that’s exactly why such sentiments need challenging.

A committee under Bangla Academy, aside from police detectives, has been formed to monitor books scheduled to be published for the month-long book fair that is slated to start on February 1.

“If we receive information about any such book, the committee will evaluate them first. Then, legal measures will follow, if necessary, in line with the law, related to the type of crime,” he said.

Yeah great. Brilliant. Treat it as a crime to challenge religion, and set the police to sniffing out this bogus crime.

I was alerted this by a tweet from Taslima.

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