I will never be silenced, says Taslima Nasreen at LFL 2018

Published - January 14, 2018 05:16 pm IST - Chennai

 Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen (right) in conversation with Suhasini Haidar, Diplomatic Editor, The Hindu, at Lit for Life fest in Chennai on Sunday.

Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen (right) in conversation with Suhasini Haidar, Diplomatic Editor, The Hindu, at Lit for Life fest in Chennai on Sunday.

Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, who was the Mystery Speaker at The Hindu Lit for Life 2018 said to The Hindu 's Diplomatic Editor Suhasini Haidar on Sunday that “Freedom of speech cannot exist without the freedom to offend.” Ms. Nasreen, who has been living in exile since she left Bangladesh in 1994 in the wake of threats to her by fundamentalist groups, “loved living in India despite the threats”.

“Why don’t governments support freedom of speech? I will never be silenced. The worst kind of censorship is self-censorship,” she added. "I know I might be killed but I am not afraid," said Ms. Nasreen whose books like Lajja and Dwikhandito have attracted the ire of Muslim fundamentalists. "Islamic countries must separate state from religion," she said.

Taslima Nasrin was unapologetic about her controversial work that has led to a life in exile. For someone who writes about pain evocatively, Ms. Nasrin is more hurt by the curb on her freedom of expression than being on the run. She asserted her atheist beliefs, sharing an anecdote about testing God’s principles by using some colourful language, just to see if He would cut her tongue. She insisted freedom of expression should be absolute. “Everyone should have the right to offend others.”

What is worrisome: politics or politics of religion, Suhasini Haider quizzed her. “It’s about secularism vs fundamentalism, rational vs irrational, innovation vs tradition…”

Her remarks on some shying away from associating themselves with the term feminist and all it encompasses? “You cannot be a humanist without being a feminist.”

(With inputs from Vaishna Roy)

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