Friday, March 5, 2010

"Should the right to oppose Islam not exist?"

This is why they hate her.

At Taslima Nasreen's website there is a whole page of articles by her that you can download in pdf format. The following is an excerpt from "Homeless Everywhere":
When I was asked to memorize verses from the Qur’an, I first wanted to know what they meant. The Qur’an is in Arabic, whereas I read and speak Bengali. My mother said that it would please Allah if I read the Qur’an in the original Arabic. Merely reading it was one thing - I wished to know its meaning. Even my mother could not tell me what it was saying or meant to say. Eventually, this did not matter very much as at the age of twelve or thirteen. I managed to get hold of Bengali translations of both the Qur’an and the Hadith.

With the exception of my mother, no one at home seemed to be interested in or dabbled in religious affairs. And a great deal of my mother’s religiosity sprang from her disapproval of my father’s activities; also, it kept her mind occupied. Even then, she could never fully immerse herself in religion. I do not think I ever had the slightest belief in religion. My father, my brother, my uncles – those I grew up with – none of them was drawn to religion. I will not say they were all atheists, but they were all opposed to praying. This is the family I was born into and the environment I grew up in. Thus, even in childhood it did not take a major effort or struggle for me to free myself from the shackles of religion. But as a woman I had to struggle greatly to get human rights. One must realize that ours is a patriarchal society.

My father was a physician, a rationalist and man of science. He flouted convention when it came to educating his children. Most other fathers were obsessed about getting their daughters married almost as soon as they reached puberty. My father did nothing of the kind. He wanted me to get an education and be independent. It was my father who made it all possible.

When I first started writing on women’s rights, it was only natural for me to speak out against patriarchy. I strongly believe that patriarchy and religion cannot co-exist with women’s rights. I can’t exploit people. If I could, I would have said that women’s rights and human rights are compatible with religion. This has been said by politicians and the many who have been exploiting humankind for far too long. I had to oppose religion as well as traditions and customs that are based on inequality, for all of these are the very instruments that patriarchy uses to deny the rights of women. I have never believed in the use of force to achieve anything but, if I had, I could have told the world how since time immemorial the institutions of the patriarchal state have oppressed the rights of women. It is not just religious fundamentalists but also society’s women-haters, established institutions, and even governments that have fought against me. It is these very people, these regressive misogynists, who have made it their mission to destroy my life and all that I hold dear.

Most people have no concept whatsoever of human rights. The basic concepts of democracy, human rights, and women’s rights simply do not figure in quite a few nations’ list of priorities.

A sick society is one in which any woman is treated as an inferior being. This transcends mere social laws, mores, and conventions. Be it Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism or Christianity, they are united in their oppression of women. I have opposed this for as long as I can remember. The trouble, however, is that whenever I have spoken out about Islam’s oppression of women, Muslim fundamentalists, or even some non-Muslim secular forces, have branded me a Jewish or Christian or Hindu propagandist. This conspiracy to defame and slander is not new. Naturally, there are those who believe this kind of slander and find it impossible to believe that anything I write could possibly have any nobility of intention. I feel nothing but pity for such people. What such people fail to acknowledge is that without the right to disagree, no society can progress . . . .

By speaking on behalf of justice, do I deserve to be a social pariah on an entire subcontinent? Chased out, made homeless everywhere, this is justice? Are there really multitudes of human beings who approve of such behaviour? Today, I am homeless everywhere. Why? If there is no complete freedom of speech in an Islamic society, is there any hope of progress? Should the right to oppose Islam not exist?

If an Islamic society does not check fundamentalism within itself, are we to assume that the notion of moderate or progressive people in Muslim society is but a pretence? I heard that Islamic fundamentalists are just a minority. Most Muslims are moderate. How many ‘moderate Muslims’ have opposed the numerous fatwas that fundamentalists throughout the world are handing out? How many moderate Muslims have opposed the heinous acts of cruelty being perpetrated on women by fundamentalists? Where are the women – those on whose behalf and for whose sake I am writing – for whom I had to undergo so many traumas? One seldom sees them opposing what is being done to me or taking a stance on my behalf. One wonders if conscience and truth have all but been obliterated.

"Islam means submission" (Geert Wilders addresses House of Lords)

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[I certainly don't agree with everything that Dutch political leader Geert Wilders has to say. I wish there were voices on the Left who were standing up against the totalitarian ideology of Islam -- but there are not.

I find it especially damning when Wilders says: "Once the Leftists stood on the barricades for women’s rights. But where are they today? Where are they in 2010? They are looking the other way. Because they are addicted to cultural relativism and dependent on the Muslim vote."

And just to emphasize the craven-ness of the Left, specifically with respect to women's rights, I am also separately posting a "statement" from Arundhati Roy on the subject of Taslima Nasreen, along with some commentary by me.

Below is the complete text of the speech that Wilders gave today in London, speaking to the House of Lords. I have added some
emphases here and there.]
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Thank you. It is great to be back in London. And it is great that this time, I got to see more of this wonderful city than just the detention centre at Heathrow Airport.

Today I stand before you, in this extraordinary place. Indeed, this is a sacred place. This is, as Malcolm always says, the mother of all Parliaments, I am deeply humbled to have the opportunity to speak before you.

Thank you Lord Pearson and Lady Cox for your invitation and showing my film ‘Fitna’. Thank you my friends for inviting me.

I first have great news. Last Wednesday city council elections were held in the Netherlands. And for the first time my party, the Freedom Party, took part in these local elections. We participated in two cities. In Almere, one of the largest Dutch cities. And in The Hague, the third largest city; home of the government, the parliament and the queen. And, we did great! In one fell swoop my party became the largest party in Almere and the second largest party in The Hague. Great news for the Freedom Party and even better news for the people of these two beautiful cities.

And I have more good news. Two weeks ago the Dutch government collapsed. In June we will have parliamentary elections. And the future for the Freedom Party looks great. According to some polls we will become the largest party in the Netherlands. I want to be modest, but who knows, I might even be Prime Minister in a few months time!

Ladies and gentlemen, not far from here stands a statue of the greatest Prime Minister your country ever had. And I would like to quote him here today: “Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. No stronger retrograde force exists in the World. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step (…) the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.” These words are from none other than Winston Churchill wrote this in his book ‘The River War’ from 1899. Churchill was right.

Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t have a problem and my party does not have a problem with Muslims as such. There are many moderate Muslims. The majority of Muslims are law-abiding citizens and want to live a peaceful life as you and I do. I know that. That is why I always make a clear distinction between the people, the Muslims, and the ideology, between Islam and Muslims. There are many moderate Muslims, but there is no such thing as a moderate Islam.

Islam strives for world domination. The Quran commands Muslims to exercise jihad. The Quran commands Muslims to establish shariah law. The Quran commands Muslims to impose Islam on the entire world.

As former Turkish Prime Minister Erbakan said: “The whole of Europe will become Islamic. We will conquer Rome”. End of quote.

Libyan dictator Gaddafi said: “There are tens of millions of Muslims in the European continent today and their number is on the increase. This is the clear indication that the European continent will be converted into Islam. Europe will one day soon be a Muslim continent”. End of quote. Indeed, for once in his life, Gaddafi was telling the truth. Because, remember: mass immigration and demographics is destiny!

Islam is merely not a religion, it is mainly a totalitarian ideology. Islam wants to dominate all aspects of life, from the cradle to the grave. Shariah law is a law that controls every detail of life in a Islamic society. From civic- and family law to criminal law. It determines how one should eat, dress and even use the toilet. Oppression of women is good, drinking alcohol is bad.

I believe that Islam is not compatible with our Western way of life. Islam is a threat to Western values. The equality of men and women, the equality of homosexuals and heterosexuals, the separation of church and state, freedom of speech, they are all under pressure because of islamization. Ladies and gentlemen: Islam and freedom, Islam and democracy are not compatible. It are opposite values.

No wonder that Winston Churchill called Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ “the new Quran of faith and war, turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message”. As you know, Churchill made this comparison, between the Koran and Mein Kampf, in his book ‘The Second World War’, a master piece, for which, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Churchill’s comparison of the Quran and ‘Mein Kampf’ is absolutely spot on. The core of the Quran is the call to jihad. Jihad means a lot of things and is Arabic for battle. Kampf is German for battle. Jihad and kampf mean exactly the same.

Islam means submission, there cannot be any mistake about its goal. That’s a given. The question is whether we in Europe and you in Britain, with your glorious past, will submit or stand firm for your heritage.

We see Islam taking off in the West at an incredible pace. Europe is Islamizing rapidly. A lot of European cities have enormous Islamic concentrations. Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Berlin are just a few examples. In some parts of these cities, Islamic regulations are already being enforced. Women’s rights are being destroyed. Burqa’s, headscarves, polygamy, female genital mutilation, honour-killings. Women have to go to separate swimming-classes, don’t get a handshake. In many European cities there is already apartheid. Jews, in an increasing number, are leaving Europe.

As you undoubtedly all know, better then I do, also in your country the mass immigration and islamization has rapidly increased. This has put an enormous pressure on your British society. Look what is happening in for example Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford and here in London. British politicians who have forgotten about Winston Churchill have now taken the path of least resistance. They have given up. They have given in.

Last year, my party has requested the Dutch government to make a cost-benefit analysis of the mass immigration. But the government refused to give us an answer. Why? Because it is afraid of the truth. The signs are not good. A Dutch weekly magazine - Elsevier - calculated costs to exceed 200 billion Euros. Last year alone, they came with an amount of 13 billion Euros. More calculations have been made in Europe: According to the Danish national bank, every Danish immigrant from an Islamic country is costing the Danish state more than 300 thousand Euros. You see the same in Norway and France. The conclusion that can be drawn from this: Europe is getting more impoverished by the day. More impoverished thanks to mass immigration. More impoverished thanks to demographics. And the leftists are thrilled.

I don't know whether it is true, but in several British newspapers I read that Labour opened the door to mass immigration in a deliberate policy to change the social structures of the UK. Andrew Neather, a former government advisor and speech writer for Tony Blair and Jack Straw, said the aim of Labour’s immigration strategy was, and I quote, to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date”. If this is true, this is symptomatic of the Left.

Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake: The left is facilitating islamization. Leftists, liberals, are cheering for every new shariah bank being created, for every new shariah mortgage, for every new islamic school, for every new shariah court. Leftists consider Islam as being equal to our own culture. Shariah law or democracy? Islam or freedom? It doesn’t really matter to them. But it does matter to us. The entire leftist elite is guilty of practising cultural relativism. Universities, churches, trade unions, the media, politicians. They are all betraying our hard-won liberties.

Why I ask myself, why have the Leftists and liberals stopped to fight for them? Once the Leftists stood on the barricades for women’s rights. But where are they today? Where are they in 2010? They are looking the other way. Because they are addicted to cultural relativism and dependent on the Muslim vote. They are dependent on mass-immigration.

Thank heavens Jacqui Smith isn’t in office anymore. It was a victory for free speech that a UK judge brushed aside her decision to refuse me entry to your country last year. I hope that the judges in my home country are at least as wise and will acquit me of all charges, later this year in the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, so far they have not done so well. For they do not want to hear the truth about Islam, nor are they interested to hear the opinion of top class legal experts in the field of freedom of expression. Last month in a preliminary session the Court refused fifteen of the eighteen expert-witnesses I had requested to be summoned.

Only three expert witnesses are allowed to be heard. Fortunately, my dear friend and heroic American psychiatrist Dr. Wafa Sultan is one of them. But their testimony will be heard behind closed doors. Apparently the truth about Islam must not be told in public, the truth about Islam must remain secret.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m being prosecuted for my political beliefs. We know political prosecution to exist in countries in the Middle East, like Iran and Saudi-Arabia, but never in Europe, never in the Netherlands.

I’m being prosecuted for comparing the Quran to ‘Mein Kampf’. Ridiculous. I wonder if Britain will ever put the beliefs of Winston Churchill on trial… Ladies and gentlemen, the political trial that is held against me has to stop.

But it is not all about me, not about Geert Wilders. Free speech is under attack. Let me give you a few other examples. As you perhaps know, one of my heroes, the Italian author Oriana Fallaci had to live in fear of extradition to Switzerland because of her anti-Islam book 'The Rage and the Pride'. The Dutch cartoonist Nekschot was arrested in his home in Amsterdam by 10 police men because of his anti-Islam drawings. Here in Britain, the American author Rachel Ehrenfeld was sued by a Saudi businessman for defamation. In the Netherlands Ayaan Hirsi Ali and in Australia two Christian pastors were sued. I could go on and on. Ladies and gentlemen, all throughout the West freedom loving people are facing this ongoing ‘legal jihad’. This is Islamic ‘lawfare’. And, ladies and gentlemen, not long ago the Danish cartoonist Westergaard was almost assassinated for his cartoons.

Ladies and gentlemen, we should defend the right to freedom of speech. With all our strength. With all our might. Free speech is the most important of our many liberties. Free speech is the cornerstone of our modern societies. Freedom of speech is the breath of our democracy, without freedom of speech our way of life our freedom will be gone.

I believe it is our obligation to preserve the inheritance of the brave young soldiers that stormed the beaches of Normandy. That liberated Europe from tyranny. These heroes cannot have died for nothing. It is our obligation to defend freedom of speech. As George Orwell said: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe in another policy, it is time for change. We must make haste. We can’t wait any longer. Time is running out. If I may quote one of my favourite American presidents: Ronald Reagan once said: “We need to act today, to preserve tomorrow”. That is why I propose the following measures, I only mention a few, in order to preserve our freedom:

First, we will have to defend freedom of speech. It is the most important of our liberties. In Europe and certainly in the Netherlands, we need something like the American First Amendment.

Second, we will have to end and get rid of cultural relativism. To the cultural relativists, the shariah socialists, I proudly say: Our Western culture is far superior to the Islamic culture. Don't be afraid to say it. You are not a racist when you say that our own culture is better.

Third, we will have to stop mass immigration from Islamic countries. Because more Islam means less freedom.

Fourth, we will have to expel criminal immigrants and, following denaturalisation, we will have to expel criminals with a dual nationality. And there are many of them in my country.

Fifth, we will have to forbid the construction of new mosques. There is enough Islam in Europe. Especially since Christians in Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia are mistreated, there should be a mosque building-stop in the West.

And last but not least, we will have to get rid of all those so-called leaders. I said it before: Fewer Chamberlains, more Churchills. Let's elect real leaders.

Ladies and gentlemen. To the previous generation, that of my parents, the word ‘London’ is synonymous with hope and freedom. When my country was occupied by the national-socialists the BBC offered a daily glimpse of hope in my country, in the darkness of Nazi tyranny. Millions of my fellow country men listened to it, underground. The words ‘This is London’ were a symbol for a better world coming soon.

What will be broadcasted forty years from now? Will it still be “This is London”? Or will it be “This is Londonistan”? Will it bring us hope? Or will it signal the values of Mecca and Medina? Will Britain offer submission or perseverance? Freedom or slavery? The choice is yours. And in the Netherlands the choice is ours.

Ladies and gentlemen, we will never apologize for being free. We will and should never give in. And, indeed, as one of your former leaders said: We will never surrender.

Freedom must prevail, and freedom will prevail.

Thank you very much.

Arundhati Roy on Taslima Nasreen

Taslima Nasreen is an outspoken feminist writer from Bangladesh, where her championing of women's rights and her humanist critique of Islam so enraged the followers of the Religion of Peace that she was forced to flee her homeland in 1994, in fear of her life.

There was a time, and not so long ago, when someone like Taslima would have been feted and showered with honors by secularists, liberals, progressives and leftists the world over. But today she is a nearly friendless fugitive whose quaintly plain-spoken feminism hasn't kept up with the times. Political correctness now demands that the Religion of Peace must be respected, and all its critics silenced for daring to engage in "hate speech."

Two years ago the leftist Indian diva Arudhati Roy released a very revealing "statement" on the subject of "Taslima Nasrin & 'Free Speech'." At the time, Taslima was in the custody of the Indian government, not for any crime she had committed or was even accused of committing, but because she was once again facing mounting death threats, this time from the followers of the Religion of Peace in India, where she had been granted asylum.

But instead of making a clear and unequivocal declaration of support for and solidarity with Taslima, Arudhati Roy hems and haws and lectures her audience about how complicated these things are, how there are many different kinds of fundamentalism, etc, etc. Eventually Roy manages to get around to her real point: she insists on linking Taslima's case with that of several prominent Indian Maoists who had been arrested, accused of being linked to the "Naxalite" terrorists.

The Naxalites are essentially the Indian Maoist equivalent of Al Qaeda. They have been responsible for thousands of deaths over the last two decades. But Roy insists that these murderers "have as much right to the freedom of expression, as much right to place their ideology - however abhorrent the government or anybody else may believe it to be - in the public domain, in the so-called marketplace of ideas as anybody else does."

It is emphatically not "ideology" or "freedom of expression" that is the issue in the case of those whom Roy insists on equating with Taslima. Communists, including Maoists, are major players in India's political scene. The Communist Party of India is one of the most successful parties in the country, and they have a history of cooperating with the Congress Party.

The Naxalites, however, are not interested in election campaigns and parliamentary coalitions. Rather, they are waging a merciless war of terror throughout a region that now includes 40% of India's territory (now known as "The Red Zone").

The point is that even if those named by Arundhati Roy are falsely accused, their cases are completely different from that of a novelist and poet who is targeted only because her outspoken feminism and humanism is unacceptable to the Religion of Peace.

You see, Roy and those like her are not at all interested in defending Taslima. However, Roy's fawning Western admirers falsely believe that she is actually a sincere feminist, rather than just another soft-core Islamist (that is to say, Indian "secularist"). So Roy felt the need to give the appearance of lending her support to Taslima, although she is only willing to do this as an aside, while focusing on her real agenda of appeasing Islam and defending the Naxalites.

Below is the complete text of Roy's "statement." It is interesting to contrast what Roy says below, from February of 2008, to her much more straightforward support for Taslima that she voiced two months earlier in this interview conducted in December of 2007.
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Taslima Nasrin & "Free Speech"

Arundhati Roy's Statement February 13, 2008, New Delhi, India

I would like to caution us all against looking at this issue, in particular the issue of Taslima Nasrin, through the single lens of a battle between religious fundamentalism and secular liberalism. Taslima Nasrin herself sometimes contributes to that view. On her website, she says: "Humankind is facing an uncertain future.” In particular, the conflict is between two different ideas, secularism and fundamentalism.” To me, this conflict is basically between modern, rational, logical thinking and irrational, blind faith. It is a conflict between the future and the past, between innovation and tradition, between those who value freedom and those who do not."

How strange it is then, that it was the West Bengal Government - led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), a party that sees itself as the vanguard of secularism, modern, logical, and rational thinking - that banned Nasrin's autobiographical novel Dwikhandita, not once, but twice. Twice the ban was successfully challenged in the Calcutta High Court. The book was published, and for four years people in Bengal read it and Taslima Nasrin lived in Calcutta. And there the matter remained - without incident.

Then Nandigram happened. Muslims and Dalits bore the brunt of the government's attack. The CPI(M) began to worry about losing the "Muslim vote." So it played the Taslima card. A report by Mohammed Safi Samsi in the Indian Express (December 1, 2007) tells the story.

The government launched its operation to "recapture" Nandigram at the end of October 2007:

On November 1, Path Sanket a CPI(M) magazine published an anonymous letter supporting Taslima Nasrin, adding some gratuitous insults of its own against Prophet Mohammed. On the November 8, the government banned the magazine and a member of the editorial team called printing the letter a "historic blunder." But, of course, vernacular newspapers republished the letter. Photocopies of the letter were then distributed in Muslim-dominated localities.

On November 21 - a week after more than 60,000 people marched on the streets protesting the government's actions in Nandigram - the little-known All India Minority Forum organized a protest that then "erupted" in violence. The army was called in. The government deported Taslima Nasrin from West Bengal.

And today, on February 13, we are all gathered here to discuss "free speech." Not the recapturing of Nandigram or the continuing terrorizing, humiliation, and rape of the people who live there.

It seems pretty clear that the threat to free speech comes as much from chemical hubs and iron ore mines - and from the project of land grab, enclosure, and mass displacement - as it does from religious fundamentalism. To not see this is to fall into a trap that has been cleverly laid for us.

Religious fundamentalists, especially those from minority communities, are often inadvertently playing out a script that has been written for them. Their outrage, genuine though it may be, has become a dependable, predictable, and an extremely useful political device to further the agendas of others.

The principle of free speech and expression has to negotiate many, many fundamentalisms. Religious fundamentalism, ultranationalist fundamentalism, market fundamentalism, among others. Sometimes they are intertwined in the strangest ways.

Liberals often make the mistake of believing that free speech is a fundamental right given to us by the Indian constitution - and that when it is curbed either by the state or by vigilante militias and thugs, the constitution is being subverted. This is not true. Free speech is not our constitutional right. It is a contained right, beset with caveats, caveats that are always used by the powerful to control and dominate those who are powerless.

Now, we have a slew of new laws that make not just free speech but freedom itself in India a pathetic joke, a distant dream. There is the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which incorporates some of the worst provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA). There is the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, the Madhya Pradesh Control of Organized Crime Act, and the utterly draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA). Some of these laws contain provisions whose sole purpose seems to be to criminalize everybody and then leave the government free to decide at leisure whom to imprison. Under the CSPSA and the UAPA, for example, the government is free to arbitrarily ban any organization without giving any specific reason for placing the ban.

Here is how the CSPA defines an organization: " 'Organization' means any combination, body or group of persons whether known by any distinctive name or not and whether registered under any relevant law or not and whether governed by any written constitution or not.

Remember, the vaguer the provisions in the law, the wider the net it casts, the greater the threat to civil and democratic rights.

Here is how the CSPSA defines an "unlawful activity": "Any action taken by such [banned] individual or organization whether by committing an act or by words either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise."

And then there are some sub-clauses that widen the net:

(i) which constitutes a danger or menace to public order, peace or tranquility

(ii) which interferes or tends to interfere with maintenance of public order

And, remarkably

(vi) of encouraging or preaching disobedience to established law and its institutions.

In Section 8(5) it says that "Whoever commits or abets or attempts to commit or abet or plans to commit any unlawful activity shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years."

So now they have mind readers in the Chattisgarh government, as well as seers.

How can there be even the pretense of free speech or freedom under laws like these? All over the country, not just journalists and writers, but anybody who disagrees with the government's plans is being arrested, tortured, and imprisoned. Sometimes murdered.

Govind Kutty, the editor of People's March, a publication banned for being sympathetic to Maoist ideology, has been arrested and imprisoned. The Maoists have as much right to the freedom of expression, as much right to place their ideology - however abhorrent the government or anybody else may believe it to be - in the public domain, in the so-called marketplace of ideas as anybody else does.

I believe that the ban on People's March should be lifted immediately and its editor unconditionally released.

Finally, I would like to say that the battle for free speech must not turn into a battle that limits itself to the freedom of writers, journalists, and artists alone. We are not the only ones who deserve this right. A friend from Chattisgarh recently told me of a doctor who had been arrested because a prescription of his had been found in some "Naxalite kit," whatever that means.

In Chattisgarh, 644 villages have been evacuated of their inhabitants. That's more than 300,000 people - displacement on a mass scale, which is eventually intended to clear space for corporate mining interests. Fifty thousand people have been moved into police camps and have become recruits for the dreaded Salwa Judum (the supposedly anti-Maoist "people's militia" created and funded by the state government). Tens of thousands of people have fled to neighboring states to escape the horror. Nobody is allowed to go back to their villages or to cultivate their land. What is freedom of expression for a farmer? The buzz in town is that a new law is on the anvil which says that if farmland has not been cultivated for two years, it can be diverted for non-agricultural purposes.

Every form of resistance, peaceful or otherwise, is being shut down by the state. Of all the cases on the anvil, the goldfish in a bowl, the dire, menacing warning to us all and to anybody who may be entertaining the idea "of encouraging or preaching disobedience to established law and its institutions" is the continued imprisonment of Dr. Binayak Sen under false charges, underpinned by blatantly fabricated evidence.

Dr. Binayak Sen, who has worked as a civil rights activist with the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and a doctor in the area for more than 30 years, was arrested last May, charged under the CSPSA, the UAPA, and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). He has been in prison for eight months, denied bail even by the Supreme Court.

By imprisoning someone like Binayak Sen, the government is trying to close out the option of peaceful resistance, of democratic space. It is creating a polarization along the lines of the Bush Doctrine - "If you are not with us, you are with the terrorists" - in which people only have the choice between succumbing to displacement and destitution or resisting by going underground and taking up arms. This is the beginning of either civil war or the annihilation of the poor. Once that genie is out of the bottle, it won't go back. There are reports that the Chhattisgarh state government has asked for 70 battalions of paramilitary forces beyond the 17 battalions that are already there. A fourfold increase. I fear the worst.

And so, from this platform I would like to ask for the granting of citizenship to Taslima Nasrin, for the immediate and unconditional release of Binayak Sen, Govind Kutty, and the other journalists whose names have been mentioned at this press conference, experienced journalists and peaceful activists who understand that reporting the realities of these situations is the only hope of righting this ship that is tilting dangerously and about to tip over. If it does tip over, everybody will suffer, the poor definitely, but the rich too. There will be no hiding place. I urge those present here to pay keen attention to the specter that is looming before us. And to begin a campaign demanding the repeal of these very frightening new laws that do not merely threaten free speech, but freedom itself.