Will fight fundamentalists until death: Taslima Nasrin

Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin said that without freedom of expression, democracy was meaningless.

New Delhi: Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, living in exile in India, on Saturday said she will not be silenced by fundamentalists and "continue to fight fundamentalists and evil forces until death".

"I think fundamentalists may want to kill me, but I want to protest against them. If I stop writing, it means they will win and I will be defeated. I don't want to do that. I won't be silenced. I will continue to fight against fundamentalists, evil forces until my death," she said.

The 52-year-old writer, who has faced controversy over her works and has been living in exile since 1994 in the wake of death threats by Muslim fundamentalist outfits, was speaking at the Times LitFest here.

Referring to violent protests in Karnataka over an article by her on burqa in a local newspaper, she slammed the "deliberate attempt to malign" her and "misuse" her writings to create disturbance in society.

"Writers should not be responsible for riots. Rioters do not read books. Rioters riot for political purposes and the Karnataka riots occurred because some people did not like the article I wrote on burqa; it was their problem not my problem," said Nasrin.

Expressing her support for the right to freedom of expression, Nasrin said that, without it, democracy was meaningless.

"Some people accused me of writing on controversial issues, but it was not a controversial issue. I believe that burqa is a symbol of oppression, so I wrote against burqa," she said.

Former BJP ideologue Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was attacked by Shiv Sena activists last month over the launch of a book by former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, expressed optimism about the moderating influence of Indian democracy, which he said "is inclusive and tolerant and respects diversity".

"Our democracy has a moderating influence. It does not allow any extremist forces to take centre-stage and, even if they try to do that, people have a way of showing them their place, as happened recently in Bihar elections," he said.

Kulkarni also noted that the Bihar poll debacle had made BJP more conciliatory with Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledging the contributions of former leaders, including Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, in making India the democracy it is.

"There is suddenly a language of conciliation, of reaching out. The prime minister is paying tributes to all the previous prime ministers for whatever India has achieved and I am very happy that he has also taken the name of Nehru," he said.

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