Politicisation of Religion

taslima_shohd.jpg In the everyday increasing violent situations comes another controversy of Taslima Nasreen. The communal factors have put themselves into full fledged action taking their stands for protecting the rights of the writer. Post nuclear deal, with the B.J.P not being in the limelight because of the melodramatic tussle between the U.P.A and the Left party, the B.J.P has once again safely used secularism to come back with a bang. This time the Bhartiya Janata Party has used Kolkata to increase its vote banks and pushed all its energy behind the controversy queen Taslima Nasreen. On her part, the writer argues that she did not mean to hurt the sentiments of the Islamic community by her writings. The scenario is such that we have Taslima and her supporters demanding the government to protect her freedom of expression. But does this use of freedom allow the user to curb other’s freedom? It is problematic because while she has chosen a topic to use her literary expressions, it definitely has flared up the Muslim community for writing intolerable facts about the Prophet who idolized by the Muslim community. The Literary world, no doubt, gives room for free expression but do writers choose to invite controversy or just exercise their freedom? To add to the already flared up community, we have communal politics using religion as a strong weapon to further incite the masses. The B.J.P with her alliances condemned the U.P.A for not giving proper protection to Taslima and has asked for guaranteeing her the status as a refugee and equal protection of her rights. The Centre faces a dilemma because the Muslim community forms a large part of her vote banks and giving Taslima such rights that would lead them to turn away from the ruling party. Politics has always used sensitive issues to further worsen the social conditions and this time Taslima and her book Dwikhandita has become the pawn with equal contributions from the writer herself. The writer is also to blame because one cannot ignore the fact that she has written upon a topic which would definitely have invited controversy. The question is why just Islam and not other religion like Hinduism, which also has its flaws but is the religion of the majority. Minorities always are hostile to any external influences and when it comes to protecting their religious and cultural ties, one can just hope to be lucky to come out safely from such a situation. It is no doubt that the writer has used her freedom of expression to give voice to her ideas but then, those opposing the voice are also exercising their rights to freedom. It is also true that the secular forces at play further worsen the scenario but the readers are at choice to be as unbiased and expressive as the writer while choosing to express themselves either for or against the voice. Fundamentalism and freedom of expression never go side by side which expresses itself in the past examples of the likes of M.F. Hussain and Salman Rushdie. In the wake of the communal based attack on the works of Taslima Nasreen, one can just hope that justice is done in the true sense and communalism does not take over rational judgment.

Dipti Tamang