তাসলিমা নানরিন

 

Taslima Nasreen was born in August 1962 in a Muslim family in Mymensingh,  Bangladesh.

Growing up in a highly restrictive and conservative environment, Taslima was fond of  literature while she also excelled in science. She started writing when she was 15 years  old, beginning with poetry in literary magazines, and afterwards herself editing a literary  periodical called    SeNjuti (1978 – 1983). She was the president of a literary organization while in medical college, where she staged many cultural programs. Earning her medical  degree in 1984, she worked in public hospitals for eight  years.

 

Her first book  of poetry  was published in 1986. Her second became a   huge success in 1989, and editors of progressive  daily and weekly newspapers suggested that she write regular columns. Next she started writing about women’s oppression. With no hesitation she criticized religion, traditions, and the oppressive cultures and customs that  discriminate against women. Her strong language and uncompromising attitude against  male domination stirred many people, eliciting both love and hatred from her readers.In 1992 she received the prestigious literary award Ananda from West Bengal in India for her Nirbachito Kolam (Selected Columns), the first writer from Bangladesh to earn that

award. Despite allegations of jealousy among other writers about this, the topmost intellectuals and writers continued to support her.Islamic fundamentalists started launching  campaign against her in 1990, staging street demonstrations and processions. They broke into newspaper offices that she used to regularly write from, sued her editors and publishers, and put her life in danger, a danger that only increased over time. She was publicly assaulted several times by fundamentalist mobs. No longer was she welcomed to any public places, not even to book fairs that she loved to visit. In 1993, a fundamentalist organization called Soldiers of Islam issued a  fatwa against her, a price was set on her head because of her criticism of Islam, and she was confined to her house.    The government  confiscated her passport and  asked her to quit writing if she hoped to keep her job as a medical doctor in   Dhaka Medical College Hospital.. She was thus forced to quit her job.   Inasmuch as she had become a best-selling author in Bangladesh and West Bengal in India, she managed to survive the hostility. The government, however, banned  Lajja (Shame), in which she described the atrocities against Hindu minorities by Muslim fundamentalists, her main message being “Let humanism be the other name of religion.”

According to Taslima, the religious scriptures are out of  time, out of place. Instead of religious laws, she maintains, what is needed is a uniform civil code that accords women equality and justice. Her views caused fourteen different political and non-political religious organizations to unite for the first time, starting violent demonstrations, calling   general strikes, blocking government offices, and demanding her immediate execution by hanging.   The government, instead of taking action against the fundamentalists, turned against her. A case was filed charging that she hurt people’s religious feelings, and a non-bail-able arrest warrant was issued. Deeming prison to be an extremely unsafe place, Taslima went into

hiding..

In the meantime two more fatwas were issued by Islamic extremists, two more prices were set on her head, and hundreds of  thousands of fundamentalists took to the streets, demanding her death. The majority who were not fundamentalists remained silent. Regardless, some anti-fundamentalist political groups did protest the fundamentalist uprising, but did not defend Taslima as a writer and a human being who should have the freedom to express her views. Only a few writers defended her rights.

But  the international organization of writers, and many humanist organizations beyond the borders of Bangladesh, came to Taslima’s support. News of her plight became known throughout the world. Some western democratic governments that endorse human rights and freedom of expression tried saving her life. After long miserable days in hiding, she was finally granted bail but was also forced to leave her country. Wherever she lived, she fought   for Human Rights and Women’s Rights. In 1998, without

the government’s permission she risked a return, to be with her ailing mother. Again, fundamentalists demanded she be killed. When her mother – a religious Muslim – died, nobody came from any mosque to lead her funeral, her crime being that she was the mother of an ‘infidel’. A case again  was filed against her on the charges of hurting religious feelings of the people. After  a few weeks of staying,  Taslima  was forced to leave her country  once more.  Taslima was  desperate   to see her father when he was ill, but the government did not let her go to Bangladesh. Her  passport was not renewed, her rights as a citizen had  constantly been violated by the governmental

authority.

Taslima has been living in exile in Europe. She has written  more than thirty   books of poetry, essays, novels, and short stories in her native language of Bengali. Many have been translated into twenty different languages. Her applications to the Bangladesh government to be allowed to return have been denied repeatedly. One Bangladesh court sentenced her in absentia to a one-year prison term. The Bangladesh government has recently banned three  other of her books, Amar  Meyebela ( My girlhood),  Utol Hawa (Wild wind)  and  Sei sob ondhokar(Those dark days).

Writers  and  intellectuals  both in Bangladesh and West Bengal went to court to ban herautobiography   Ko( speak up)  and  Dwikhandito(The Life Divided). Two million-dollar  defamations suits were filed  against Taslima by her fellow writers. The West Bengal government  finally managed  to ban   Dwikhandito on the charges of hurting religious feelings of the people. A Human Rights organization in Kolkata  flied a case against   West Bengal government  for banning a book that  is against  freedom of expression. After two  years, the ban was lifted by  the Kolkata High Court, which, Taslima says, is a victory for

freedom of expression.

The numerous prestigious awards she has received in western countries have resulted in  increased  international attention to  her struggle for women’s rights and freedom of expression.  She has become a  symbol of free-speech. Taslima has been invited to speak in many countries and at renowned universities throughout the world. Her dreams of secularization of  society  and secular instead of religious education are becoming increasingly more accepted and  honored by those who value freedom. Taslima was forced to leave Bangladesh for Europe.  After a decade, when  she was

granted a visa, she visited India, her second home. When she was granted residence permit, she  moved there.  But only after 3 years of living  in West Bengal, because some Muslim extremists wanted her to leave India, the West Bengal Government and the Indian Government forced her to live under house arrest and  put pressure on her to leave the country. She was forced to leave India after being confined for  seven and half months. The real tragedy is that two countries which give her the oxygen of language have cut her off. It’s not the geography alone, but the languagescape also. That’s the real crime… a fish

being made to live on land. She does not have home. She is homeless everywhere.     Taslima Nasreen/Taslima Nasrin

Biographical

Born:               25 August, 1962, Mymensingh, Bangladesh

Citizenship:      Bangladesh, Sweden

Deported:       From Bangladesh in 1994, then from India in 2008 because of her views

on women’s rights, secular humanism, and freedom of expression.

Education

Degree:           M.B.B.S. (Equivalent to M.D.), 1984

Honorary:        Ghent University in 1995; American University of Paris in 2005.

Training:          1985 – In-service Training at Mymensingh Medical College and Hospital

Work:              1986 – 1993 Numerous Bangladesh health clinics and public hospitals

Lectures ( In the Universities)

From 1994 to 2009

1.Oxford University, UK. 2.Nottingham University, UK 3.Edinburgh University, UK 4.Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland 5.University College of Dublin, Ireland 6.La Sorbonne University, France 7.Université Jésuite, France 8.  Udine University, Italy 9.University of Graz, Austria 10.Gent University, Belgium 11.Uppsala University, Sweden 12.Helsinki University, Finland 13.Johannesburg University, South Africa 14.Harvard University, U.S.A. 15.Michigan State University, U.S.A. 16.California State University, U.S.A. 17.Maryland State University, U.S.A. 18.Boston University, U.S.A. 19.Tufts University, U.S.A. 20.Wellesley College, U.S.A. 21.Dartmouth College, U.S.A. 22.College of Charleston, U.S.A.23.Yale University, U.S.A. 24.Concordia University, Canada 25.Quebec University, Canada 26.Toronto University, Canada  27.Brusseles University, Belgium 28.Lille University, France 29. American University of Paris, France  30. Barcelona University, Spain 31.Kolkata University, India 32. Taipei National University of Arts, Taiwan etc.

Honors and Awards

1992                 Ananda Literary Award, India

Natyasava Award, Bangladesh

1994                Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thoughts, European Parliament

Human Rights Award, Government of France

Edict of Nantes Prize, Nantes, France

Kurt Tucholsky Prize, Swedish P.E.N., Sweden

Hellman-Hammett Grant, Human Rights Watch, USA

Humanist Award, Human-Etisk Forbund, Norway

Feminist of the Year 1994, Feminist Majority Foundation

1995                Honorary Doctorate, Ghent University, Belgium

Scholarship, German Academic Exchange Service, Germany

Monismanien Prize, Uppsala University, Sweden

1996                Distinguished Humanist Award, International Humanist and Ethical Union,                                      (IHEU) Great Britain

Humanist Laureate, International Academy of Humanism, USA

Scholarship, Villa Waldverta, Germany

1999                Scholarship, Moulin D’ande, Normandy, France

Scholarship from Cultural Ministry, France

2000                Ananda Literary Award, India

Global Leader for Tomorrow, World Economic Forum

2002                Erwin Fischer Award, International League of Non-religious and Atheists

(IBKA), Germany

Free thought Heroine Award, Freedom From Religion Foundation, USA

Fellowship at Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, John F. Kennedy

school of Government, Harvard University. USA

My Girlhood awarded one of best non-fiction books by Los Angeles Times

(California) and  Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

2003                Resident Scholar, Harvard University

2004                UNESCO  Prize for the promotion of tolerance and

Non-Violence

2005                Honorary Doctorate  American University of Paris, France

Grand Prix International Condorcet-Aron, from the French Parliament in

Belgium

2006                Sharatchandra literary award , West Bengal, India

2008                Honorary citizenship of Paris, France

Simone de Beauvoir Feminist Award, France

2008                Resident Scholar, New York University

2009                Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, USA

Books

Poetry

▪                       Shikore Bipul Khudha (Hunger in the Roots), 1986

▪                       Nirbashito Bahire Ontore (Banished Without and Within), 1989

▪                      Amar Kichu Jay Ashe Ne (I Couldn’t Care Less), 1990

▪                      Atole Ontorin (Captive In the Abyss), 1991

▪                       Balikar Gollachut (Game of the Girls), 1992

▪                       Behula Eka Bhashiyechilo Bhela (Behula Floated the Raft Alone), 1993

▪                      Ay Kosto Jhepe, Jibon Debo Mepe (Pain Come Roaring Down, I’ll                                                  Measure Out My Life for You), 1994

▪                       Nirbashito Narir Kobita (Poems From Exile), 1996

▪                       Jolpodyo (Waterlilies), 2000

▪                      Khali Khali Lage (Feeling Empty), 2004

▪                       Kicchukhan Thako (Stay For A While), 2005

▪                       Bhalobaso? Cchai baso (It’s your love! or a heap of trash!), 2007

▪                       Bondini (Prisoner), 2008

Essay collections

▪                       Nirbachito column (Selected Columns), 1990

▪                      Jabo na Keno? jabo (I will not go; why should I?), 1991

▪                       Noshto meyer noshto goddo (Fallen prose of a fallen girl), 1992

▪                      ChoTo choTo dukkho kotha (Tale of trivial sorrows), 1994

▪                      Narir Kono Desh Nei (Women have no country), 2007

Novels

▪                       Oporpokkho (The Opponent) 1992

▪                      Shodh (Revenge), 1992

▪                       Nimontron (Invitation) 1993

▪                      Phera (Return) 1993

▪                      Lajja (Shame), 1993

▪                       Bhromor Koio Gia (Tell Him The Secret) 1994

▪                       Forashi Premik (French Lover) 2002

▪                       Shorom (Shame Again) 2009

Short Story

▪                       Dukkhoboty meye (Sad girls) 1994

▪                      Minu 2007

Autobiography

▪                      Amar Meyebel (My Girlhood) 1999

▪                      Utal Hawa (Gusty Wind) 2002

▪                      Ka (Speak Up) 2003

▪                       Dwikhondito (The Life Divided) 2003

▪                      Sei Sob Andhokar (Those Dark Days) 2004

▪                      Ami Bhalo Nei, Tumi Bhalo Theko Priyo Desh (My Exile) 2006.

Banned

1. Lajja ( Shame) was banned by the Bangladesh Government in 1993

2  Amar Meyebela ( My Girlhood) was banned by the Bangladesh Government in 1999.

3 Utal Hawa ( Gusty Wind) was banned by the Bangladesh Government in 2002.

4  Ko ( Speak Up) was banned by the High Court of Bangladesh in 2003.

5 Sei Sob Ondhokar ( Those    Dark Days) was banned by the Bangladesh Government in 2004.

6. Dwikhandito ( The Life Divided) was banned in India in 2003. But the High   Court lifted the ban on the book in 2005.

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