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It all happened during December The Muslim fundamentalists of Bangladesh avenged the destruction of the Babri Masjid by attacking the blameless Hindus of Bangladesh, burning their homes, destroying their temples and shrines and raping Hindu women. I had protested this terrible violence in Lajja. Lajja is still banned in Bangladesh. No one in Bangladesh has the strength to go to court against this ban.
I have not criticized Islam in Lajja and the fatwa is not because of Lajja. The fatwa is because I have criticized Islam in many of my other books. Lajja has been translated into many languages and published in several countries. It is primarily a testament to the savagery of religions in the Indian subcontinent.
Religion drives people to madness, at which point they do not hesitate to abandon even basic humanity. Even today, the politics of religion does not allow the subcontinent to become civilized and its people to become truly educated. Lajja can be seen as a symbol of protest. It is a protest against the violence, hatred and killings that are going on all over the world in the name of religion.
Writers work to spread awareness amongst people through their books. People blinded by religion do not read and books are burnt by those who rule. And so, the incidents described in Lajja are repeated over and over again in Bangladesh. Lajja was written twenty-one years ago. Even now, Hindus in Bangladesh are being tortured and many come away to India because they feel insecure. Those without shame do not want to see their societies change.
Lajja will remain relevant as long as the incidents described in it continue to happen and as long as there is conflict between people of one religion and another. Lajja does not speak of religion, it speaks about humanity.
Lajja speaks not of hate but love. Lajja asks for equality, not discrimination. Lajja waits for a time of equality, empathy and freedom. Translated from the Bengali by Anchita Ghatak.
I did not criticise Islam in 'Lajja': Taslima Nasrin
Taslima Nasrin wrote Lajja, previously translated as Shame, in , after four novels and several collections of poetry and essays. By the time it came out, she was well-known in her homeland, Bangladesh, for her strong views against patriarchy and religious bigotry, expressed in a popular newspaper column, though it was Lajja that changed her life dramatically. The novel, initially conceived as a documentary, was banned in Bangladesh. It earned her a bounty on her head from Islamic fundamentalists, forced her to flee the country, and turned her into an international icon for human rights as well as one of the most controversial literary figures from the subcontinent. Written as a response to the wave of communal violence that rose in Bangladesh after the demolition of Babri Masjid in India in , Lajja is not only an invaluable historical document but also a text whose relevance has—unfortunately—not been diminished in the two decades it was published. Lajja chronicles the terrifying disintegration of a Hindu family living in Bangladesh in the aftermath of the riots that break out to avenge the destruction of the mosque in India. Hundreds of temples across Bangladesh are ground to dust or desecrated, Hindu men are butchered, women raped, houses burnt to cinders, and property confiscated.
Lajja: Shame | Taslima Nasrin | Book Review
History teaches us that religion has been one of the most compelling reasons behind many of the great wars, and a consequence of most religious wars is an exodus of natives who have been conquered. Driven away from their motherlands, and living as refugees in another country which they cannot call their own, the immigrants are probably the most affected people in any war. An independence that was earned at the cost of three million Bengali lives, proved that religion could not be the basis of a national identity. Language, culture, and history, on the other hand, were able to create the foundation on which to build a sense of nationality. The sensitivity of the facts and figures provided in the book led to its being banned in Bangladesh; a fatwa was issued against Taslima and a reward was offered for her death. She was forced to leave Bangladesh in and seek refuge in India.