Candlelight support for Taslima

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EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
NEW DELHI

O express dissatisfaction over the hasty transportation of Taslima Nasreen from West Bengal, more than 100 social activists, writers and artists today held a silent candlelight protest at Mandi House.

Holding placards that said, “We stand for freedom of speech and expression,” the protesters not only condemned the transportation of Taslima Nasreen but also condemned the violence against artists such as M F Husain, Deepa Mehta, Chandrashekhar and Khooshboo.

“Taslima Nasreen had to leave Kolkata because a handful of fundamentalists committed violence.

What happened to the safety that the government had promised her while giving her refuge?” said Kamla Bhasin of Jagori which organised the vigil. She said she felt the need to stage the protest because “everyone was dissatisfied over what was happening to Taslima but nobody was doing anything about it. They needed somebody to take the initiative and here I am”.

The protesters at the vigil felt that freedom of expression should be irrespective of caste, gender or religion. “As an artist, one should be allowed to express himself or herself and I am all for anti-censorship because that is the basis of a democratic society,” said Brinda Bose, who is doing her fellowship at the Nehru Memorial.

Another volunteer Bhupen Singh, a cultural activist, said, “The CPI(M) is presenting its pseudo-secular character by forcing the writer to flee from Kolkata.”

When asked whether their candlelight vigil can help the cause of free speech, a majority answered that it is upto the government to decide. “By protesting, we are doing what we ought to do. Now by listening to us, the government should do what it should do,” said Anil Chowdhury from Peace.
- November 28, 2007

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