Religion and Silence


  • Gargi Ganguly


The novel 'Lajja' (Shame) was first published in Bengali in Bangladesh in 1993. The English translation appeared a year later. The novel created a lot of controversy - on the one hand, Taslima Nasrin was awarded a prestigious award; on the other hand, Muslim fundamentalists not only banned the novel and burned hundreds of copies, but called for Taslima's death as well -with rewards of up to $1250 for her head. The anger of the mullahs was directed at Taslima for her iconoclastic views on sex, marriage; and religion. What made them furious was her statement, made in Calcutta, that the shariat laws must be revised. What is unpardonable is that a person - a woman too - should speak her mind! Even a liberal minded politician was quoted as saying: 'Championing freedom of speech at the expense of faith can only provide a fillip to extremist trends.'