This is all the more disturbing following a similar recent incident in which a video conference with Salman Rushdie at a literary fair had to be called off.
Behavior that is rewarded is repeated, and society will be poorer for it as dissent becomes physically dangerous. “After Muslim protests, Kolkata Book Fair cancels Taslima Nasrin book launch,” by Molly Driscoll for the Christian Science Monitor, February 2:
After receiving threats, the Kolkata Book Fair canceled the launch of Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin’s new autobiography “Nirbasan,” which had been scheduled to debut at the fair this week.
Muslim leaders had protested her appearance there because of one of Nasrin’s previous books, titled “Lajja” (translated to “Shame”), which has been viewed by some of the Muslim faith as offensive.
Nasrin has enraged them before by demanding women’s rights. Two people died in riots over her article “Let’s Think About the Burqa” in 2010. In that article, she called for women to burn their burqas, and noted:
“Some 1,500 years ago, it was decided for an individual’s personal reasons that women should have purdah and since then millions of Muslim women all over the world have had to suffer it,” and: “Why are women covered? Because they are sex objects. Because when men see them, they are roused. Why should women have to be penalised for men’s sexual problems? Even women have sexual urges. But men are not covered for that.”
The CSM report continues:
Tridib Chatterjee, the secretary for the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, which is in charge of the Kolkata Book Fair, told The New York Times that the launch was canceled not only because of threats received, but because the AC Hall, the space where the launch was to take place, was not prepared.
“We took the decision to cancel the book launch in the larger interests of the people,” Chatterjee told The New York Times. “We cannot jeopardize the safety and security of thousands of visitors to the book fair.”
The launch then took place at the stall of the People’s Book Society, the publishing company that was releasing Nasrin’s new book, though not in connection with the fair’s organizers. Other authors at the book fair, including writer Nabarun Bhattacharya, launched the book at the stall unofficially. A rally occurred later at the fair, protesting the threats against Nasrin.
Nasrin was forced to flee her home country of Bangladesh in 1994 after the release of “Lajja” provoked attacks and death threats. She lived in Europe and North America for some time before moving to Kolkata, but after being attacked again and becoming the subject of riots due to a fatwa against her in the city, she moved to New Delhi, and then left India for Sweden after she said some members of the police force told her to leave the country.
Nasreen said she was taken aback that the cancellation had not prompted more outrage from the city”s residents.
“Are Kolkatans becoming cowards?” she asked the Times of India.