Taslima Nasreen mired in fresh controversy over TV serial script; protests stall telecast
The broadcast of a Bengali TV serial whose script was written by exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen was postponed indefinitely today after Muslim fundamentalists raised objections, despite both the channel and the author clarifying that the story had nothing to do with religion.
Minority leaders from the 'Milli Ittehad Parishad' and Maulana Nurur Rahman Barkati, Shahi Imam of the Tipu Sultan Mosque in Kolkata, had warned the channel to abandon the telecast of the serial 'Dusahobas' (translated roughly as living difficult) on the ground that it hurts religious sentiments.
Taslima told PTI that the story of the serial, which was earlier scheduled to be broadcast from tonight on the newly-launched 'Aakash Aath' channel, is about a Hindu family settled in the city.
"There is not even the 'R' of religion in the story. No one has seen the serial. Then why are they opposing it? The story is about three sisters and their fight against social evils directed against them," the 51-year-old feminist author said from Delhi.
Abdul Aziz of Milli Ittehad Parishad told PTI that they had written to the producers asking them to withdraw Taslima's name and reference from the serial and withdraw scenes which might create a controversy.
"We have been told that there are some scenes in the serial which might hurt our sentiments. Through this serial she is trying to come back to Kolkata. Therefore we have opposed this," Aziz said.
In a tweet, a frustrated Taslima blamed the West Bengal government for supporting Muslim fundamentalists, saying, "Unbelievable! WB Govt banned my upcoming mega serial abt women's rights bcz some Muslim fanatics objected. I feel like I'm living in Saudi Arabia".
The minority groups have already forced the channel to withdraw all hoardings about the serial which has Taslima's name and photographs.
In a statement issued during the day, a spokesperson of the channel said, "Due to reasons beyond the purview and control of our channel we may be forced to defer the telecast of this serial indefinitely."
Echoing Taslima, the statement emphasised that the serial was based on women's empowerment and had nothing to do with any religion or community whatsoever.
Maulana Barkati said, "We will not allow the channel to show the serial at all."
Idris Ali, president of All India Minority Forum, alleged that Taslima was trying to break communal peace and harmony in the state with her work.
The author, who drew the ire of fundamentalists for her controversial books like 'Lajja' and 'Dwikhandito', said this was another attempt to gag her and a violation of her right to speech and expression.
"The government is bowing to the demands of Islamic fundamentalists. Everyone is silent when my rights are infringed upon," she said.
Exiled from Bangladesh in 1994 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments with her novel 'Lajja' (Shame), the doctor-turned-author had taken refuge in the city in 2004, after a long stay in Europe. But after violent protests in the city in November 2007, the government took her away to an undisclosed location in New Delhi where she has been residing since then.
In the last year's Kolkata book fair, the launch of one of her books was cancelled over protest by Muslim fundamentalists, though all of her books were available in the market freely.