Tag Archives: Taslima Nasreen

Does the media have a right to inflame?

The republication of Taslima Nasrin‘s 2007 essay on the burqa in Kannada Prabha, the riots that resulted in the death of two in Shimoga, the reported filing of an FIR against the Kannada daily and the “regret” expressed by the newspaper reopen an evergreen question: is the media within its rights to publish incendiary material knowing fully well its potential to wreak damage, or should it play safe especially when certain communities (read Muslims) are involved?

For the moment, the Bangladeshi author has washed her hands off the Kannada Prabha translation, leaving no doubt that it was unauthorised. Maybe, but so what; copyright is an issue between the author and the paper. The timing of the protests, just when Nasrin has sought a visa from India, and quite coincidentally in the beleaguered chief minister’s home-district, also raise some doubts of hanky-panky. Nevertheless, neither of those issues quell the bigger, fundamental questions.

CHURUMURI POLL: Is it the media’s role in society to spark debate and discussion, or is it supposed to swim with the tide and coast along and protect public order, even if dictated by dogma and worse? If the Danish (and European) newspapers could en masse decide to publish the supposedly controversial cartoons on the Prophet despite knowing the havoc it could cause, do Indian publications have a special onus on them to not rock the boat? And, the eternal question: if it is OK to publish M.F. Husain‘s paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses, should the media take extra care to not hurt “religious sentiments” only when Muslims are involved?

Read the comments to this poll here

Also read: Bolo Bharat mata ki jai, Bolo it’s a work of art

Desh ke police kaise ho? Moral police jaise ho!

Just how is this dress an affront to Hindu culture?


The Taslima Nasrin “article” that cost two lives

The front page of Saptahika Prabha, the weekly magazine section of the Kannada daily Kannada Prabha of the New Indian Express group, carrying the controversial piece on the burqa by Taslima Nasrin, which led to protests and riots in Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa‘s hometown, Shimoga, killing two people on Monday.

The story titled Purdah hai purdah begins on page one of the section with the clarion call “Come, let’s discuss the burqa once again” and spills over to page 5, occupying nearly half the broadsheet page. The article states upfront that it has been translated from the original English by “Sindhu” but does not mention the source.

The controversial Bangladeshi author has since clarified that she did not write for the Kannada daily. Meaning: her 2007 essay had been used without permission either from her website or from Outlook magazine where the essay originally appeared, a common even if questionable practice in most language publications.

“The incident that occurred in Karnataka on Monday shocked me. I learned that it was provoked by an article written by me that appeared in a Karnataka newspaper. But I have never written any article for any Karnataka newspaper in my life,” Nasrin said.

“The appearance of the article is atrocious. In any of my writings I have never mentioned that Prophet Muhammad was against burkha. Therefore this is a distorted story.”

The chief minister said an FIR had been filed against the publisher of the newspaper after which the paper expressed regret (below) for publishing the article. Stunningly, the death of two persons in riots caused by the newspaper article found no mention on the front page of Tuesday’s Kannada Prabha; it was perfunctorily buried on page 6.

Initial TV reports said a critique of the Kannada Prabha article, published by Siasat, a Bangalore-based Urdu newspaper run by the Congressman Roshan Baig, had also contributed to the trouble 24 hours after its publication.

In 1986, Bangalore had been rocked by riots and killings after the City’s leading English newspaper Deccan Herald published a short story in its magazine section titled “Muhammad, the Idiot”. The story was about a half-witted boy, had nothing to do with the prophet, and in fact caused no trouble when first published in Kannada.

Newspaper facsimile: courtesy Kannada Prabha

Calcutta editor arrested for Independent article

Many years ago, a news editor of Indian origin was arrested in Dubai for having carried a Peanuts cartoon strip that was not OK with the censors.

In a similar incident, the editor, and publisher and printer, of The Statesman, Calcutta, were arrested yesterday on “a specific complaint” from a resident of Calcutta against the republication of an article from The Independent, London, which was deemed to be offensive to “the religious sentiments of a minority community”.

The editor, Ravindra Kumar, and the printer-publisher Anand Sinha, were later granted bail, but the arrests, under sections 295A (maliciously insulting the religions or the religious belief of any class) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, underlined the growing perils of editors and publishers even in “secular” Bengal.

Only last year, the exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, who had made Calcutta her home, was forced to flee after a few lines from a short story were deemed offensive.

The original Independent article titled “Why should I respect these repressive religions” was by Johann Hari—the youngest person to be nominated for the Orwell Prize for political writing. The Statesman carried it as per a syndication arrangement with the London paper.

Read the original article: Why should I respect these repressive religions

Your eyes. Your ears. Your voice. Your soul.

Shooting the messenger has become an international hobby. Instead of examining the message we bring home every day , afternoon and night, we are increasingly reminded that we are just doing a job like anybody else. If, heaven forbid, if what we bring home isn’t to the recipient’s liking, we have our motives and motivations questioned.

V.K. Shashikumar, editor, special investigations, of CNN-IBN, India’s #1 English news channel, has provided a ringing response to the doubting thomases and naysayers. Kumar was in Calcutta on Wednesday when rioters demanding the revocation of visa of the Bangaldeshi writer Taslima Nasreen went on the rampage.

While the general citizenry ran to the safety of their homes, in the opposite direction of the rioters, scared of life and limb, Kumar reminds us that the media ran ran into them. Unarmed.

We stood our ground, tackled their anger, got the views of others out to the nation without judging them, we gave the news that you could consume. We informed you. We did our job. Without a chip on our shoulders. We braved the stones and the abuses so that you could know. We do this for a living.

“That’s what journalism is all about. To capture contemporary history without distilling it. And when everything is over to distill it with perspective. We are your ringside whisperers.

“We are the chronicler of the change within and without. We are story-tellers. We tell you what is happening around you. What might affect your life in positive ways. The things that might come in your way. We are also your conscience keeper.

“We raise our voice when you sit in your drawing room and criticize everything around you. When you become the arm chair critic, we give you the ammunition for an intelligent debate. We are what you are.

“We become your thoughts, we voice your thoughts, and we connect your thoughts to the larger world that you face every single day. We try to bring you right in the middle of things happening in your nation. We give a ringside view. We get into the ring as well.

“We are not the police, the army, you know. We are pretty ordinary mortals like you. Just convinced that we have a job to do. We are the much maligned journalists.”

Read the full story here: Why we do journalism