My sentiments have been hurt – A modern Fatwa

Recently we are hearing, people are saying- my sentiments have been hurt.


Then they are screaming- my sentiments have been hurt. Then they are marching on the street, bombing, killing, destroying everything. Why? Because their sentiments have been hurt. Then they are demanding, a person, has created this situation! (wonderingly, that person did not scream, bomb, kill or destroy anything. It is them who did those). So hang him or her, kill him or her, ban the books of him or her.

In past, we heard, people were saying- that person is an atheist. That person is a murtad. Hang Him. Kill him. Ban the books of him or her.

Isn’t it the same thing?

Only the tune of the song is changed, but lyric is the same.

In past, there were no need to give any excuse. In recent times, there are. So they are giving a excuse, which is very famous now- My sentiments have been hurt.

Then, they are hanging, killing, destroying, banning. Everything is still the same.

Now, come to the main issue. Recently Taslima Nasrin has beeen evaqueted from India, and also long before from Bangladesh.

What has she done? She has hurt the sentiments of the people.

First of all, what does it mean by people?

People includes every civilian.

Arundhoti Roy asked the same question. In a interview with Karan Thapar’s “Devils Advocate”, Karan Thapar asked her- When Pranab Mukherjee says that it is expected that guests will refrain from activities and expressions that may hurt the sentiments of our people, is he in a very real sense giving Muslim fundamentalists a veto, both over what Taslima can write and say and therefore whether she can stay in Calcutta?
Arundhati Roy:Who does he mean when he says ‘our people’? Am I included for example? Because by saying this he certainly hurt my sentiments. You can’t really match people’s sentiments.

She also said-

(Karan Thapar: Let me give you a specific example. If criticism of Islam by Taslima Nasreen leads to a situation where people come out and riot on the streets and there is a real genuine threat that innocent people could end up killed, what in that circumstance should be the government’s priority — to defend freedom of speech or prevent the loss of human lives?)

Arundhati Roy: I don’t think that’s a choice. I think they have to protect freedom of speech and do everything that they can to prevent the loss of human life because here what is happening is that this kind of right to offend or ‘my sentiments have been hurt’ have become a business in democratic politics. Let’s say the political parties are engineering these situations which lead to a loss of life otherwise why should it be that Dwikhandito has been on the bestseller list for four years in West Bengal and nothing has happened and suddenly when there’s a massive march and a massive mobilisation against the CPM, the book suddenly reappears as insulting people’s faith?

And she explained why Taslima Nasrin was really thrown out of the state (West Bengal), and then we could understand why she left India Actually.

Karan Thapar: What about Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee? He is a poet, he is an author; how does he emerge from this story?

Arundhati Roy: He emerges from the story, as far as I am concerned, as the principal scriptwriter who managed, quite cleverly, to shift all the attention from Nandigram to Taslima. Taslima is not the person who is displacing the poor peasants of Nandigram. She is not the person who is robbing people of their daily bread.

Karan Thapar: So he used her as a pawn to take the pressure off himself in terms of Nandigram?

Arundhati Roy: I think very successfully because we are discussing her and not Nandigram right now.


Karan Thapar: Let’s explore the position that you’re taking – free speech is an absolute freedom and there should be no limitations on it. What about the view that by criticising Islam, Taslima has offended beliefs which for tens of millions of Indians, maybe for hundreds of millions are sacred? These are beliefs that underlie their dignity and their sense of identity. Should freedom of speech extend that far as to threaten people’s sense of themselves?

Arundhati Roy: I don’t believe that a writer like Taslima Nasreen can undermine the dignity of 10 million people. Who is she? She is not a scholar of Islam. She does not even claim that Islam is her subject. She might have said extremely stupid things about Islam. I have no problem with the quotations that I have heard from her book. Dwikhandito has not been translated into English, but let’s just assume that what she said was stupid and insulting to Islam. But you have to be prepared to be insulted by something that insignificant.


Karan Thapar: So you’re saying mischief makers, manipulators whipped up sentiments four or five years after the book was published, to deliberately try and corner Taslima and to create an atmosphere that perhaps worked in some peculiar way to the advantage of the West Bengal government?

Arundhati Roy: Look at who’s benefiting from it. All the anger about Nandigram has now suddenly turned to us asking the same state that criminally killed people in Nandigram to now protect Taslima Nasreen.

Karan Thapar: Are you trying to suggest that perhaps that the West Bengal government was in some way involved in engineering this incident to deflect attention from Nandigram to Taslima?

Arundhati Roy: I would say that it would have had a lot to do with it and I am saying that it is so easy to do these things.

Karan Thapar: When the situation happened, it would have perhaps been judged as Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s dilemma. Perhaps as a poet and author he felt a need to defend or desire to protect the freedom of speech. As a Chief Minister, undoubtedly he knew that he had the duty to stop and prevent the loss of human life. If therefore, by putting pressure on Taslima Nasreen to leave the state for a while, he was able to save ten or fifteen lives that would have otherwise been lost on the streets of Calcutta, did he not do the right thing?

Arundhati Roy: No, I don’t think so. I think that’s the game that they would like us to play. ‘I did it in order to defend innocent lives.’ But I think there’s a deeper script in the understanding of what is known as the deep state. I think that this was a provocation that actually could have ended up creating a loss of lives because, I want to go back to it, why should it be that for four years that book was on the market and no lives were lost. Everything is in the timing.

So, this was the game played with Taslima Nasrin in India.

Even, the book she was blamed for, was in bestseller list for four years and nothing was happened.


Now, let’s see how she finished.

Karan Thapar: Given that Taslima’s case is not a unique case, you’ve suffered as you said at the hands of the Supreme Court, M F Hussain has suffered, art students in Baroda have suffered, even people doing cartoons and satires of Gandhi on YouTube have suffered, are we an intolerant people?

Arundhati Roy: We’re just messy people. Either we have the principle of free speech or you have caveats that will fill up this whole room and we will all just be silenced. There will be no art, there will be no music and there will be no cinema.

Karan Thapar: Are you moving in that direction where caveats to free speech are becoming so many that there is no freedom to be artistic?

Arundhati Roy: What I am saying here does not matter. I might believe in this but I know that tomorrow I have to deal with the thugs of the government, courts of the fundamentalist and everybody else. In order to live here you have to think that you are living in the midst of a gang war. So what I believe in or don’t believe in is only theoretical. However, how I practice is a separate matter. How I survive here is like surviving amongst thugs.

Karan Thapar: But then the corollary to what you’re saying is very important. You’re saying that artists, particularly those who see things differently, particularly those who are stretching out and wanting to be new and avant-garde, have to contend with the thugs, as you call them, with the government and the majority that’s trying to push them back.

Arundhati Roy: We do and we will. The thing is that I also don’t expect to be mollycoddled. I know that we have a fight on our hands and how do we survive in this gang war. The state is just another gang, as far as I am concerned.

Actually, My sentiments have been hurt is not only a fatwa, it is also a very useful political trick which helps to defend the politicians even after a genocide like Nandigram (where most of the victims were Muslims) committed by them themselves.

And we, the fool people, who don’t understand anything, say- it is not good to hurt people’s sentiment. Can’t we, the people who describe ourselves as progressive, understand that by saying this we are supporting the fundamentalists?

If there will be a blasphemy code, the thing will happen just like Arundhoti Roy said- There will be no art, there will be no music and there will be no cinema.

If we want to practice art, then we will have to stand arm in arm for defending free speech. Therefore, we will also have to stand arm in arm against any demand for blasphemy code by fundamentalists or the people who wear the title of progress and say everything to defend fundamentalism.

Dear reader, have you ever heard of any sentiment which leads people to kill, rape, destroy, bomb if it get hurt? Is it really a sentiment? Or an anger?

The fatwa should have been like this- My angers have been hurt. Then, we could not say that “sentiment” is false. We know very well that it is not sentiment, it is anger.

Let’s stand for any action against any anger which destroys everything.

And then, let’s apologize to Taslima Nasrin for the misjudgment done with her in the name of a fatwa called My sentiments have been hurt .

Let’s fight for bring her back to Bangladesh. Let’s fight for bring real democracy and real freedom of speech back to Bangladesh.