Taslima Nasreen

The Star -Mark Abley – Breaking shackles of religion

“Her insistence on the rights of women and her refusal to abide by sharia law have made her a target for fundamentalists. Since 1993 she has endured constant death threats. This year an extremist Muslim party in India put up a bounty of 500,000 rupees (about $13,000 Canadian) for her beheading.

I met Nasreen in Montreal thanks to a human rights group, the Ligue des Droits et Libertés. She spoke in praise of a secular society, saying: “If women want their freedom, they must cross the barrier of religion and patriarchy. They must stop thinking it is their destiny to be slaves of men. They must find the courage to break their shackles.”

Courage is one thing Nasreen has in abundance. “In Christian countries,” she told me on that visit, “people can say anything they like against Christianity. So why should people in Islamic countries not have the right to criticize Islam? If any religion keeps women in slavery, then I cannot accept that religion.”

A woman of courage.