When I first read the news of Taslima being heckled at Hyderabad, I felt angry. Moreover, as the news was (not very unexpectedly) on the front page, I knew we are expected to deplore the incident (which many of us do); however, the news that we do hate it is not expected to reach front page (which it hasn’t).
It is indeed a Lajja(shame) the way some fanatic Muslims attacked Taslima Nasrin. These fanatics had no idea about what they were doing and what are the implications- both in terms of the message that goes out, and the resulting rapture of the islamophobes.
Such incidents, apart form sending wrong messages out, makes it very difficult to engage Taslima in a serious debate, in which she is bound to fare horribly, given her ignorance and mendaciousness. While freedom of expression is, without doubt, a virtue, freedom to lie is a vice.
It also makes it more difficult to build a case against her. The end result of the din is that Taslima starts becoming legitimate precisely because some fanatics hate her. This is deplorable.
India is a secular democracy that guarantees freedom of expression and prides itself in being so, but it seems we are very selective about applying the idea of freedom of expression. Al-Jazeera English, in my opinion the best TV news channel around, has remained banned for over six months in India. There was no outcry, no headlines.
Even the books Shivaji: A Hindu King in Muslim India and of course, the most famous of all Satanic Verses remain banned. All is quiet.
What freedom of expression are we celebrating?