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Taslima has to apologise, withdraw books to be pardoned - The Observer

Ershadul Huq ()
October 15, 1998

Title: Taslima has to apologise, withdraw books to be pardoned
Author: Ershadul Huq
Publication: The Observer
Date: October 15, 1998

One of Bangladesh's top religious leaders spearheading the
movement against Taslima Nasreen has said pardon for the
controversial feminist writer can be considered only if she
personally apologises to Muslims and withdraws her works from
the market.

Moulana Fazlul Haque Amini, secretary general of the influential
Islamic Oikya Jote (Islamic United Front), told IANS: "Taslima
Nasreen must seek forgiveness of the Muslims. All her works must
be withdrawn from the market and she should uphold the ideals of
Islam in her future writings, admitting her past mistakes."

The front led a movement by orthodox Muslims in 1994 that forced
the physician-turned-writer to flee the country. Conservative
muslims were incensed with Taslima's book ajja (shame), which
apparently hurt the religious community's sentiments, and the
situation was compounded by her allegedly blasphemous remarks in
an interview to an Indian newspaper.

Taslima returned here on September 14, ending her four-year self-
exile in Europe and America. "She herself must seek pardon,"
Amini said. "A pardon through her mother or others would not be

Taslima's mother, 60-year-old cancer patient Eid-Ul Ara, said
recently: "I appeal to all to forgive my daughter for offending
the religious sentiments of the Muslims. My daughter has
promised me that she will no more write anything that will hurt
the sentiments of Muslims," Eid-Ul Ara, who claims to be a
devout Muslim, said.

Taslima, she said, returned to Bangladesh to be by her side in
her last days. "I am a dying woman and I pray to almighty allah
for my daughter's safety," she added. Amini, also principal of
the Lalbagh seminary in the old part of Dhaka, claimed that
while there were some wrongdoings that could be forgiven under
Islam if the sinner confessed, the religion specified no pardon
for certain crimes.

He claimed illegitimate sexual relations, for instance, could
only be pardoned by allah. Amini said he found Taslima's
'crimes' unpardonable. Yet, if she sought forgiveness, the
front's highest policy-making body or the Majlis-E-Sura would
consult other religious leaders in the country to see if her
appeal could be considered.

Amini claimed his front had never participated in movements
demanding Taslima's expulsion from the country but was demanding
her execution. "The question of ousting her from the country
does not arise," he said. "We are going to hold a conference of
religious leaders from across the country in Dhaka," Amini said.

"The conference will take a final decision about Taslima and
other atheists of the country." He however did not mention any
dates for such a meeting. The conference, he claimed, may
endorse a strong agitation programme including countrywide work

Asked about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed's remarks on
Taslima and her critics, Amini said it was compulsory for all
Muslims to join the movement against Taslima.

He described Hasina's comments as "audacious and regrettable."
The Prime Minister had denounced both Taslima and her critics,
saying they had crossed the line.

"Taslima should know that freedom of expression does not mean
the right to hurt one's religious sentiments and her writings
are vulgar and not feminist," she said. About the agitation by
Islamic groups and their "cash reward" on Taslima's head, Hasina
warned that her government would not allow anyone to violate the

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