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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Nasrin, Taslima (1962 - )
I don't find any difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalists. I believe religion is the root, and from the root fundamentalism grows as a poisonous stem. If we remove fundamentalism and keep religion, then one day or another fundamentalism will grow again. I need to say that because some liberals always defend Islam and blame fundamentalists for creating problems. But Islam itself oppresses women. Islam itself doesn't permit democracy and it violates human rights.

-- Taslima Nasrin


Taslima Nasri, is a Bengali Bangladeshi physician, writer, feminist human rights activist and secular humanist. She was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1994, and a Humanist Award (from the International Humanist and Ethical Union) in 1996.

Biography
Taslima Nasrin was born in Mymensingh. Her father was a physician and a professor at the government medical college. She studied at Mymensingh Medical College.

Nasrin has spoken out in favour of equal rights for women and has expressed opposition to the oppression of non-Islamic minorities in Islamic societies, such as in her home country Bangladesh. In her autobiography, Nasrin mentioned that she was sexually assaulted by her relatives and other men in her early years. These incidents had a strong influence on her later life to become a staunch feminist.

She initially gained fame as a poet and columnist. However, later she gradually became popular for being a courageous woman through a series of books that she wrote. Some of her critics believe that part of the reasons of Taslima Nasrin's popularity is because of her critical views on religions, especially Islam.

In 1993, sparked by a series of newspaper columns in which she was critical of the treatment of women under Islam, Islamic fundamentalists pronounced a fatwa against her and offered a bounty for her death.

Later, the government banned her book Lajja, (a Bangla word meaning shame), which drew attention to the torture of Hindu minorities in Bangladesh. Again there were calls for her death and her passport was confiscated by the government.

In 1994, organised groups identified with religious fundamentalists demanded her execution by hanging after she was quoted in The Statesman stating that "…the Koran should be revised thoroughly." The government of the day, whilst not taking action against those who had issued threats, filed a court case against Nasrin charging her with hurting the religious feelings of people and an arrest warrant was issued. Although she anticipated that she may have faced a jail term of up to two years, Nasrin felt it was very likely that she would have been murdered in jail; she went into hiding. After two months she was granted bail and left the country.

In the same year she received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the European Parliament and other awards. Nasrin is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society. Her books have been translated into twenty different languages.

Nasrin's four autobiographical books are banned in Bangladesh. The government has claimed that they "contain anti-Islamic sentiments and statements that could destroy the religious harmony of Bangladesh".

In November 2003, the West Bengal government in India banned the sale, distribution and collection of Nasrin's book Dwikhandito, the 3rd part of her autobiography. The ban was lifted by the High Court in September 2004. In 2005 her attempt to read an anti-war poem entitled "America" to a large Bengali crowd at Madison Square Garden resulted in her being booed off the stage.

Nasrin has been living in exile for more than 10 years. Still a citizen of Bangladesh, the government has not been seen to have taken the necessary steps to ensure her safe return. In March 2006 a letter she co-signed entitled MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism with eleven other individuals (most notably Salman Rushdie) was published in response to violent and deadly protests in the Islamic world surrounding the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy.

Quotations

"Religion is now the first obstacle to women's advancement. Religion pulls human beings backwards, it goes against science and progressiveness. Religion engulfs people with a fear of the supernatural. It bars people from laughing and never allows people to exercise their choice."

"Religion, society and state -- from none of these do women get their proper honor. It is religion, which has created an unparalleled disparity between men and women."

"Religion is now the first obstacle to women's advancement. Religion pulls human beings backwards, it goes against science and progressiveness. Religion engulfs people with a fear of the supernatural. It bars people from laughing and never allows people to exercise their choice."

"Religion, society and state -- from none of these do women get their proper honor. It is religion, which has created an unparalleled disparity between men and women."

"I don't find any difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalists. I believe religion is the root, and from the root fundamentalism grows as a poisonous stem. If we remove fundamentalism and keep religion, then one day or another fundamentalism will grow again. I need to say that because some liberals always defend Islam and blame fundamentalists for creating problems. But Islam itself oppresses women. Islam itself doesn't permit democracy and it violates human rights."

"I dont agree with those who think that the conflict is simply between two religions, namely Christianity and Islam.... To me, the key conflict is between irrational blind faith and rational, logical minds."

"I am an atheist. I do not believe in prayers, I believe in work. And my work is that of an author. My pen is my weapon."

"Koranic teaching still insists that the sun moves around the earth. How can we advance when they teach things like that?"

 
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