Tag Archives: charlie hebdo

Statement protesting arrest of Shirin Dalvi, Editor, Awadhnama

We, members of the Mumbai based human rights group Hum Azaadiyon Ke Haq Mein  are disturbed at reports of the multiple cases lodged against Shirin Dalvi, the editor of Awadhnama, Mumbai, and her arrest by Thane district police on January 28, for publishing a news-item on the Charlie Hebdo issue and one of the covers of the magazine on January 17, 2015. We are also shocked at the reports of the continual harassment of Shirin Dalvi.

Responding to readers’ views, she issued a clarification denying any intention to hurt religious sentiments and tendered a public clarification the very next day. However, cases have been registered against her in different police stations in Mumbra and Rabodi (Thane district), Malegaon and Mumbai on charges of violating Sec 295 of the Indian Penal Code (outraging religious feelings by insulting a religion with malicious intent).

While she has sought, and obtained, anticipatory bail in one set of cases from Mumbai Additional Sessions Court judge S D Tekale on January 23, she was arrested in Mumbra, Thane district, and granted bail the same day on Jan 28.

The Mumbai based human rights group Hum Azaadiyon Ke Haq Mein is disturbed at the attempts made to defame her character. Baseless statements appeared in several Urdu newspapers that a colleague had tried to dissuade her from using the Charlie Hebdo cover but the colleague identified was actually not even in office on that day and had resigned a few days ago. Other attempts to defame her included statements that she had joined the RSS women’s wing and was a ‘follower’ of Bangladeshi writer in exile Taslima Nasreen!

Shirin Dalvi is a respected journalist with more than 20 years of experience in Urdu journalism. She is perhaps the only woman editor in Urdu journalism in India, has written on issues concerning women’s rights and politics and is well-known for her literary skill and learning.

The manner in which she is being hounded bodes ill for free debate and discussion and for peaceful resolution of controversy. Besides, the incident is also being used as a pretext to ratchet up polarized public opinion, which is a dangerous game and detrimental to freedom of speech and expression in a democratic society, besides causing immense personal harm and a threat to her life and safety.

We request those who have filed cases against her to accept her clarification in the right spirit with which it has been given and to withdraw all the cases against her.

We also demand that Shirin Dalvi be provided necessary protection forthwith.

Hasina Khan
Dr. Ram Puniyani
Adv.Irfan Engineer – Director, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism
Javed Anand – General Secretary, Muslims for Secular Democracy
Sukla Sen
Ammu Abraham
Sameera Khan
Nasreen Fazalbhoy
Mario D’Penha
Divya Taneja
Kamayani Mahabal
Geeta Seshu
Brinelle D’souza – Tata Institute of Social Science
Teesta Setalvad, Editor, Communalism Combat
Rukmini Sen, Hillele Combat TV
Veena Gowda
Anjali Kanitkar
Saaz Shaikh
Rohini Hensman
Chhaya Datar
Susan Abraham
and members and organisations of Hum Azaadiyon ke Haq Mein

What does one write today?

It’s the kind of moment that makes you reach for poetry, for words that convey what can scarcely be written. It’s the kind of moment where you must write for it is writing that is itself at stake.

The debates on Charlie Hebdo are wide and varied. There is, as Joe Sacco so beautifully drew, before anything else, a deep yet horrifically dull sadness. Few and fewer in the world have the privilege to still be “shocked” by violence, to not have its banality be its true horror. There is solidarity, some of the most meaningful of which comes from cartoonists in the Arab world.  There is a wide agreement that no justification is possible for returning any measure of offence with death yet there is an insistence on the ability to critique even that which one defends. As Teju Cole eloquently argues: “moments of grief neither rob us of our complexity nor absolve us of the responsibility of making distinctions.” There are important, vital debates about what it means to “insult everyone equally” when everyone is not equal, reminding us that we must begin and ask our questions in place, in history; that we must remember that the power to criticise is a freedom but also a privilege. There are the universal debates on the limits to absolute speech, pointed to by Sandip Roy who reminds us that the French Government itself banned the earlier incarnation of Charlie Hebdo for printing a mock death notice of the then French PM De Gaulle. There are fears of the Islamophobia this violence will re-incarnate as, that Hari Kunzru argues is one intent of the attackers.

I write with a different intent today. I write not to enter these debates about Charlie Hebdo but to insist on what these deaths must provoke us to do: to translate our solidarity, our empathy, our fear, and our resolve into the real work of protecting the freedoms of speech, satire, offence, and expression in India. That is the tribute to Charlie Hebdo that matters, that transcends all our debates.

Continue reading What does one write today?

‘To those who attacked Charlie Hebdo yesterday shouting Allahu Akbar’: Karima Benoune

KARIMA BENOUNE in Open Democracy

We are all Charlie!

To those who attacked Charlie Hebdo yesterday shouting “Allahu Akbar,” I would like to say that your kind of God – a God of Hate and Murder – is not Great. Nor is that God the God of most Muslims, but rather of your own Islamist cult – which so many people of Muslim heritage oppose. You are incapable of understanding satire; you openly revile the beliefs of others but brook no criticism of the medieval notions you believe. You claim to defend Islam while bringing only shame upon it. You are offended by cartoons but not by killing. You claim to have avenged the Prophet Mohamed but have instead defamed him with your cowardly attack on unarmed journalists in his name.

As a Tunisian woman wrote to me afterwards, “It is so horrible, claiming the name of God while killing these poor people. But, about which God are they speaking?”  With an ironic outrage, worthy of Charlie Hebdo itself, she insisted the deity would be “gratified” that they are “making him a God of intolerance and blood.”  In the name of tolerance and peace, and in memory of the tragically murdered victims in Paris, and of so many others – even more numerous – in places like Peshawar, let us commit after this bleak January day to make 2015 the year we finally put an end to this ghastly jihad.

While first information suggests the authors of the Paris attack may have claimed affiliation with Al Qaeda in Yemen, others suspect an “Islamic State” link. In any case, their indisputable connection is with the pernicious ideology of international Islamism and its myriad armed manifestations.  These are, to quote Algerian sociologist Marieme Helie-Lucas, “political movements of the extreme right that… manipulate religion to achieve their political aims.” We must collectively denounce that ideology and do all we can to defeat these movements.  As Helie-Lucas and Maryam Namazie wrote in an online petition in denunciation of the Charlie Hebdo attack, a statement rapidly signed by activists from Iran to Sudan, “What is needed is straight-forward analysis of the political nature of armed Islamists: they are an extreme-right political force, working under the guise of religion and they aim at political power. They should be combated by political means and mass mobilization….”

Continue reading ‘To those who attacked Charlie Hebdo yesterday shouting Allahu Akbar’: Karima Benoune

Qalam chhin gayi to kya ghum hai/Snatch my pen away, I remain defiant (Faiz Ahmed Faiz)

Post jointly authored by ADITYA NIGAM AND NIVEDITA MENON


This image celebrating the power of dissent and creativity over forces of tyranny, circulated widely after the murderous attack on the French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo and the shooting of cartoonists Charbonnier, Wolinski, ‘Tignous’ and Cabut, among others. The cartoonists of the ‘equal opportunity offender’ journal were called out by name and coldly slaughtered in the name of Islam.

It seems appropriate now to remember Faiz’s words on censorship and the violent closing of minds:

Mataa-e- lauh-o-qalam chhin gayi to kya ghum hai 

Ke khun-e-dil men dubo li hain ungliyan maine

Zuban pe muhar lagi hai to kya,

ke rakh di hai har ek halqa-e-zanjeer mein, zubaan maine.

Snatch away my ink and pen, I remain defiant,

For I have dipped my fingers in the blood of my heart.

Chain shut my lips, I don’t give a damn,

For in every link of the chain I have placed a tongue ready to speak.