SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- Leaders of India Muslim community have been voicing increasing anger at Indian government’s latest decision to grant long-term residence permit to Bangladeshi exiled author Taslima Nasrin, who has been ridiculing Islam for many years.
“Contrary to the practice in India, she gets residence permit which is being extended regularly,” Zafarul-Islam Khan, the national president of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), told OnIslam.net.
“It is difficult to understand and rationalize why a section of the Indian ruling class, spanning over Congress and BJP, is so keen to provide shelter to someone who is a fugitive from law in her own country.
“I find it strange that the same ruling class, which is eager to offer refuge to a foreigner, did not bother to protect one of its greatest living artists, MF Husain, who was forced to live in exile by Hindutva goons and had to die in an alien land,” Khan, who is also the editor of Muslim community newspaper, added.
Khan is one of angry Indian Muslims who rejected the recent government decision to grant Nasrin a long-term residence permit.
A medical doctor-turned-writer, Nasrin fled Bangladesh in 1994 after her debut novel “Lajja” was banned in which she allegedly called for changes in the Qur’an and some antagonized Bangladeshi Muslim groups issued death threats against her.
After spending 11 years in Europe and the US, she moved to India in 2004.
Since she wrote in Bengali and preferred to live in a Bengali environment, she began living in Kolkata in 2005 by renting a house that she called her “second home”.
But, after some Indian Urdu newspapers in 2007 carried translation of parts of Nasrin’s controversial autobiography “Dwikhandito”, in which she allegedly maligned the character of the Prophet apart from criticizing Islam, Indian Muslims began turning against her.
Muslims in Kolkata took to streets in November 2007 demanding expulsion of the author from the country.
The protest took the shape of a riot and to control the protesters the army had to be called in. Fearing for her safety, the authorities immediately shifted her to Delhi where she has since been living in a safe house, under police security.
Since Islam-bashing Nasrin moved to India she got immense support from India’s Hindu groups and also the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), then in opposition seats.
A strong community that included many writers and artists too stood by her, and every year her year-long residence permit was regularly renewed by the Indian government.
Muslims Are Angry
Though Nasrin’s visa was surrounded by lots of debates recently, a promise by India’s home minister Rajnath Singh to grant the author a 50-year residence has revived Muslims’ anger.
“We stand against all who hurt the religious sentiments of others,” Maulana Shafique Qasmi, imam of Kolkata’s Nakhoda Masjid- which is known as eastern India’s largest mosque, told OnIslam.net.
Qasmi added that by deciding to issue the residence permit to Nasrin, the BJP-led Indian government was supporting her act of disparaging Islam and Muslims.
“Although (famous Indian painter) M F Husain was Muslim, along with the BJP and other Hindu leaders we the Muslim scholars too condemned him when he angered Hindus with his improper painting of Hindu goddesses,” he said.
“But, now by standing in support of Nasrin, BJP has made it clear that it stands only for sentiment of Hindus, not others.
“We have reasons to believe that India’s ruling party of BJP and the government it heads are encouraging humiliation of Islam,” the Kolkata imam added.
Many Muslims shared the view that Nasrin was an opportunist who, while living in India, would upscale her attacks on Islam to cozy up with the growing Hindutva forces in India.
“In the last week of July her dozens of tweets everyday highlighted how Israel was ruthlessly attacking civilians, including children and women, in Gaza. On July 31, as soon Nasrin was handed out the two-month tourist visa, she stopped posting her anti-Israel tweets, fearing that it would anger BJP-led Indian government further,” Parvez Khan, a school teacher in Patna told OnIslam.net.
“And, to please the Hindutva forces in India on her twitter page she has now launched new attack on the Islam.”
Three days after Nasrin knew from India’s home minister that she would indeed get the residence permit soon, she tweeted on August 5: “After reading the Quran Tsarnaev brothers,ISIS, Boko Haram, LeT,Al-Shabaab,Al-Qaeda,Taliban have become terrorists, I’ve become an atheist.”