Taslima moves Supreme Court against FIR over tweet // SC accords protection to Tasleema Nasreen from arrest

NB - The FIR against Taslima Nasrin by the UP police is atrocious & should be resisted by democrats everywhere. Communal politicians are using 'sentiment' at any time they choose, to stifle free speech & threaten anyone they dislike. Taslima has been hounded out her own country for speaking her mind on religion & is now being intimidated in India, where she has taken refuge. The persons and groups who are doing this should know that they are contributing to the climate of communal hatred & intolerance in India - DS

The Supreme Court's serious objections to abuse of Section 66A of Information Technology Act has not deterred UP police from lodging an FIR against author Taslima Nasrin for her criticism on Twitter of Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal for seeking support of a mufti who had issued a fatwa against her. 

A similar abuse of Section 66A leading to arrest of two girls from Palghar in Maharashtra in November last year for their comments on social networking site Facebook had enraged the apex court during the hearing of a PIL, which had challenged the constitutionality of the provision. Shreya Singhal had alleged that the provision was violating right to freedom of expression. After the SC intervention, two police officers who had arrested the Palghar girls were suspended and proceeded against. 

Taslima, who has been staying in India since 2004, said in her petition before the SC that Bareilly police registered an FIR against her on December 4 on the complaint of one Hasan Raza Khan alleging that her tweets had hurt the sentiments of Muslims. The police registered an FIR on the complaint without even inquiring whether an offence was made out or not, she said. In her tweet, Taslima had criticized Kejriwal's pre-Delhi election meeting in the first week of November with Muslim cleric Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan ostensibly to seek his support for the party in the assembly polls. Given her strong pro-women's stand, which riled clercs both in Bangladesh and India, Tauqeer Raza Khan had allegedly issued a fatwa against her in 2007 putting a bounty of Rs 5 lakh on her head. 

In her tweet on the Kejriwal-Mufti meeting in the backdrop of the 2007 fatwa, Taslima had said it appeared to be an attempt by political personalities to confer legitimacy to such fatwas. Her petition seeking quashing of the FIR was mentioned on Monday for urgent hearing by senior advocate KK Venugopal before a bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The bench posted it for hearing on Tuesday. 

Taslima's petition, drafted by advocates Ankur Chawla and Liz Mathew, said: "As a peace loving and law abiding person of letters, the petitioner is quite distressed and shocked by the registration of a criminal case against her, and believes that the criminal justice system is being abused to harass, intimidate and coerce her into virtually giving up her right to express her views freely and without fear." "Petitioner was shocked to learn that Arvind Kejriwal, who is a leader of a political party, met with Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan and sought his support for the assembly elections to be held on December 4. The petitioner was rather disturbed to read media reports of this meeting, given that Kejriwal had been projecting himself as a legitimate leader and voice of civil society, and had himself been highly critical of political stratagems adopted by the established political parties in India to gain power." 

"Petitioner also believed that her sense of outrage and disappointment would be shared by many other like-minded members of civil society. As a result, the petitioner expressed displeasure at the meeting between Kejriwal and Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan on Twitter." 

Taslima said as a citizen of Bangladesh, she might not be able to invoke fundamental right to freedom of speech but requested the court to take cognizance of the potential threat posed by the abuse of Section 66A to free speech. She had moved to India in 2004 after a 10-year exile in foreign countries. She stayed in Kolkata till 2008 and has been living in New Delhi since. 


Cleric files FIR against Taslima Nasreen's anti-fatwa tweet
The complaint lodged by Hasan Raza Khan takes serious objection to Tasleema's tweet in which she says "In India, criminals who issue fatwas (edict) against women don't get punished". Hasan Raza Khan in his complaint said a mufti (qualified Islamic scholar) issues fatwas in the light of the teachings of the sacred book and Hadith (references to Islam that were penned down by noted religious leaders of the Prophet's era). By describing the muftis as criminals Tasleema Nasreen had hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims, says Hasan Raza in his complaint that was submitted at the City Kotwali police station in Bareilly late Wednesday night...

Nasreen tweeted on Thursday evening that she was facing a police case for speaking the truth. " ... Hasan Raza Khan Noori Miyan did not at least deny that a fatwa was issued or a price was set on my head. He said it was issued 'in the light of the Hadith and the Quran". She tweeted further, "Nobody is allowed to set price on anyone's head in India. The fatwas are illegal here. It is against the Indian constitution. But it seems Noori Miyan does not care. The cleric Tauqeer Raza Khan is wrong if he claims that I am wrong, because I say he is anti-free speech. Noori Miyan is now saying I am a criminal. Am I a criminal because I have told the truth?" Her tweet had read: "He believes I hurt religious feelings of the entire Muslim community. Is it a crime to tell the the truth? Did I commit a crime or hurt Muslim community by telling the truth about Tauqeer Raza Khan that he was against free speech, so he issued fatwa? The truth only hurts liars and hypocrites. All Muslims in India are not afraid of truth, nor are they liars and hypocrites. Some are, of course. And they always use the name of whole community for their own political interests. Should it be continued? And fatwas continued to be issued, court cases continued to be filed and FIRs continued to registered against writers and artists?"

SC accords protection to Tasleema Nasreen from arrest
The Supreme Court on Tuesday accorded protection from arrest to exiled Bangladeshi writer  Tasleema Nasreen, who has had an FIR registered against her in Uttar Pradesh under the Information Technology Act over a contentious tweet. In her tweet, Nasreen had criticised the meeting between AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and cleric Maulana Taureeque Raza Khan, who had approved of issuing a fatwa against her in 2007. Subsequently, an FIR was lodged against her in Bareilley in UP. A bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam restrained the police from taking any coercive action against her and sought a reply from UP government as to why the FIR against her be not quashed. The court also tagged her petition with a bunch of other similar petitions that have sought to get Section 66A of the IT Act as unconstitutional because of its fragrant misuse.

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‘Freedom to criticize religion is a touchstone of free expression’ - Interview with Gilbert Achcar

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IHEU Freedom of Thought Report 2013: Death penalty for atheism in 13 countries

Salman Rushdie - ON CENSORSHIP
Salman Rushdie - We're all too easily offended these days

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Gita Sahgal - Bangladesh: Blasphemy, Genocide and Violence Against Women
Taslima Nasreen - ‘Religion Is The Biggest Bane For Any Democracy’
Syed Badrul Ahsan calls for Taslima's return - Our writers, our moral parameters
New Age Islam Website Is Banned In Pakistan
Taksim, Convergence, and Secular Space // Turkey, the end of Islamism with a human face
Khaled Ahmed - A culture of haters
Khaled Ahmed - Rollback nations (NEWSWEEK PAKISTAN)
Interview with Karima Bennoune, author of 'Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here'
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Book review (2009): The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: Militant Islam & Global Politics

Mahmoud Mohammed Taha (Author of Second Message of Islam); also known as Ustaz Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, was a Sudanese religious thinker, leader, and trained engineer. He was executed for apostasy at the age of 76 by the regime of Gaafar Nimeiry(See his Court statement)
THE MODERATE MARTYR - A radically peaceful vision of Islam

Najam Sethi - Pakistan: Pluralism and tolerance
Unfortunately, attempts to rationalize and modernize our education system have continuously foundered on the rock of misplaced, conservative or politically motivated religious elements in society..Two such cases have caught headlines recently. The first is an attempt by Imran Khan's PTI government in KPK to undo the rational cleansing of the textbooks by the previous ANP government by reinserting nations of jihad and "Islamic" vice and virtue into the curricula. The second is an attempt by a section of the media to devalue the teaching of "comparative" religion in schools in which the values of relative compassion, mutual respect and human dignity common to all religions are emphasized

We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree. // We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons. // We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights. // We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.  We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called "Islamaphobia" in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights...

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