Human Rights Badasses

{August 17, 2007}   Taslima Nasrin

Feministing alerted me to Taslima Nasrin, and I’m so glad, because she’s freaking awesome.

She’s Bangladeshi, but she’s currently living in exile in India. There’s a price on her head and she has received several death threats because of her criticism of Islam. She was raised Muslim but is now an atheist, a secular humanist. About a week ago she was attacked at a book launch for her “anti-Muslim” statements. She has spoken out against the atrocities that Muslims have committed against Hindus, a minority religion there. She wants civil laws that are separate from religion and give women equal rights. For this people want her killed. Few people defended her rights while she was in Bangladesh, even though the majority are not fundamentalists. This is what I mean by badass. If I were her I probably would have just shut up a long time ago.

This is how badass she is, y’all. Her official website has a section for “Banned Books”. You can also check out her poetry there. Not only is she a writer, she’s also a physician. And Feminist of the Year in 2004 for the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Can I just say that I really love how she tackles the issue of religion being used to oppress women? I can name sexist things about all five of the world’s major religions. Hinduism is the hardest because it’s so…decentralized in its authority, from what I gather, but look up “devadasi” if you think there’s nothing anti-woman about it. Not to say that all of religion is horrible and everyone who belongs to a religion is horrible and all the ways people like to exaggerate these statements so they can get mad at me and turn this around into me being the oppressive one, but…I see sexism. And I don’t like it. And I’m glad she’s saying so, so much more eloquently than I could. I also don’t like religious fundamentalism. I think I’m going to stop even differentiating between different types of religious fundamentalists. I think when you go that far you stop worshiping your god and you start worshiping your religion. And at that point, it’s all the same, just with different names and different rules (somewhat), but the hatred, the inflexibility, the disrespect, the irrationality, that’s all the same. Plus I think it’s hilarious to group fundamentalist Christians with fundamentalist Muslims because they hate each other so much. I love seeing hateful people have the basis of their hate undermined.


Eric Stoller just wrote a post about Raed Jarrar, who was given a lot of crap and humiliation at an airport because he committed two very serious crimes:

1) Being Arab-looking while in an airport.

2) Wearing a shirt with Arabic script while in an airport.

The thing is, I’m not even kidding. They even said that was the reason, comparing this to telling a bank you’re a robber. Because Arab=terrorist, so letting people know you’re Arab is like telling them you’re a terrorist. I mean, I guess you can be Arab, but don’t go around making it known at an airport. Especially not one in the United States, where we have both terrorist attacks and an amendment to the constitution protecting freedom of speech. And I know people make a lot of noise about freedom of speech when it doesn’t even apply, like “oh my gosh you deleted my comments don’t I have freedom of speech!!1!” but this is actually a freedom of speech case. What your T-shirt says can be considered speech under the law, and the airport is a public place (unlike a private blog, etc, and no that hasn’t happened to me but it does happen). Edit: JetBlue is a private company and they actually only bothered him when he tried to get on the plane, so that’s arguable, but racial profiling is still against the law.  And you also hear a lot of argument about what constitutes racial profiling and what’s fair and what’s not, but this is about as clear-cut as it gets. There is no reason to think this guy’s a terrorist unless you think Arabs must be terrorists. (Michael Savage thinks all South Asians are terrorists, isn’t that lovely?)

Since I’m totally stealing this from Eric Stoller’s blog, take a moment to follow the link at the beginning and read about it there, and then come back and I’ll tell you what to do.

Welcome back.

So, Jarrar and the ACLU are fighting this, and you can do something pretty badass too. You can get your very own Arabic and English “We will not be silent” t-shirt from this website that looks pretty cool (I got a warning about its certificate but it seemed fine to me). I will award bonus Official Badass Points to anyone who wears it to the airport.


picture from the ACLU

et cetera