Taslima Nasrin's Cause

September 6, 1994

Letter to the editor of the Christian Science Monitor

I am writing in response to the article “Taslima Nasreen's Campaign Endangers Other Reformers,'' Aug. 18. The author asks why Nasreen became a cause celebre in the West, and concludes that she ``faxed the Western media at the first hint of danger.''

This is untrue. Ms. Nasreen never faxed the Western media. She faxed human rights organizations, principally the Women Writers' Committee of International PEN, which I chair, and also Amnesty International.

The author is correct to say that other writers in Bangladesh have received death threats from time to time. But rather than wondering why these writers were not targeted in the same hysterical fashion as Nasreen, and why human rights organizations did not know as much about them, the author blames the victim, concluding she was a publicity hound who brought her problems on herself and harmed the women's movement.

The real reasons Nasreen became such a target are easy to find. She was persecuted more than other writers because she was more vulnerable. She is both an immensely popular writer and a woman from the provinces inciting other women to rebel. Nasreen took on many causes, and therefore had many forces against her: Islamists, patriots who view India as their enemy, and the Bangladeshi government, because she exposed the mistreatment of Hindus.

 Meredith Tax, Chair of International PEN Women Writers' Committee