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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Ex-Muslim activists attacked by Islamist thugs

Two ex-Muslim activists have been attacked by Islamist fanatics in the past week. One of those was NSS Honorary Associate Taslima Nasreen, whose book launch was stormed in Hyderabad, India. Taslima said she feared for her life as she took shelter in a backroom as pressmen and organisers tried to fend off the fanatics.

“I have been attacked before,” said Taslima, “but it was never like yesterday. There were no police to help because the organisers had not foreseen anything of this kind. If I have returned alive to Kolkata it is because of media persons who fought those men for half an hour and got injured to save me. I was wondering how they would kill me. Would it be with a knife or a gun. Or would they simply beat me to death. They had encircled us. After I escaped from a back door and took shelter in a room, they even broke down one of the doors. I thought I was dead," said the 45-year-old writer.

According to reports, around a hundred members of a radical political group Majlis Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (MIM) invaded the Hyderabad Press Club, where Taslima was releasing the Telegu translation of her book Shodh, (Getting Even) and threw chairs and other objects, overturned tables and chanted slogans against her. MIM activists were led by three state legislative politicians.

Organisers tried to push back the protestors and during the melee, Taslima was slapped.
MIM leader Akhtar Khan, an MLA, said: "She is enemy of Islam, she is a black spot on Muslims. We cannot bear anyone talking against Islam. She has written books against Islam. We will not tolerate her in Hyderabad."

Taslima was eventually rescued by the police and journalists present at the press club and was escorted to the air port. Three radicals have been detained by the police for questioning.

Taslima has been living in exile for the last twelve years after death threats forced her to flee Bangladesh. She is an outspoken champion of equal rights for women and a fearless fighter against religion. Taslima has faced numerous death threats from Islamic radicals. Recently, in March 2007, an Indian Muslim group offered a bounty of 500,000 rupees for her beheading.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Netherlands-based Central Committee for Ex-Muslims has been put under special police protection after being attacked last weekend.

Ehsan Jami, 22, who is also city councillor of the left-leaning Dutch Labour Party, said he was beaten up last Saturday by three men who were laying in wait for him outside a supermarket. Both Jami and a female companion were reportedly injured in the attack in Voorburg, which was carried out by two Moroccans and a man from Somalia, Dutch newspapers reported.

It was the third time that Jami had been attacked, prompting the Dutch National Coordinator on Terrorism Suppression to intervene and offer protection. Mr Jami said on Dutch television: "Yes I can confirm that I have protection and feel safer. This is the third time I have been attacked, and better late than never.” The case underscored concerns about the perceived growing influence of Muslim militants targeting ex-Muslims and Christian converts in the Netherlands.

However, Iranian-born Jami said: "The Netherlands is a democratic country and it should be normal to have an open discussion here and freedom of religion. We continue the good fight and I want to express that there should be religious freedom."

Dutch officials have linked the attacks to the student's involvement in the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims which he founded in May, and his remarks about Islam in the media. He recently told Dutch news paper Trouw he was convinced that "if Prophet Muhammad would live today you could compare him with Osama bin Laden or [former Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein." Jami described the prophet as "a terrible man, someone who speaks beautiful words, but who behind your back, uses a knife to stab you."

See also:The bridge to moderate Islam is, in fact, a road to hell
Dutch right-winger calls for Koran to be banned


Published Fri, 10 Aug 2007