The Hague Freedom Book Fair showcases banned works in Bangladesh – benarnews

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Bangladeshi publisher Ahmedur Rashid Tutul fled to Norway after surviving a machete attack by Muslim extremists at his Dhaka publishing house in October 2015.

Every year he attended the Ekushey Book Festival in the Bangladeshi capital, but he is now a regular at The Hague Freedom Book Fair in the Netherlands, the second edition of which opened on Friday.

The four-day festival that runs through Monday features appearances by Tutul and other Bangladeshi writers, bloggers and publishers who have had their works banned in their home countries, as well as exhibitions of their books. The fair also features publishers from Great Britain and the Netherlands as well as a special exhibition of books banned in Turkey.

Mukto-Mona, a website for free thinkers in Bangladesh that was founded by secular blogger and writer Avijit Roy – who was assassinated after leaving the Ekushey Fair on February 26, 2015 – jointly hosted the Pays Book Fair. -Bas with Hague Peace Projects as part of a peaceful fight for freedom of expression.

It is a continuation of the 2016 Bangladesh Alternative Book Fair, held in memory of Roy and other Bangladeshi writers, publishers and free thinkers who were killed in 2015.

“This is a unique demonstration against censorship. Freedom of expression and thought is the main objective of this book fair, ”Mukto-Mona chief Rafida Bonya Ahmed told BenarNews.

“Many important and true books have been banned in Bangladesh and other countries. These books should be available to readers in order to build a rational society, ”said Bonya, who was seriously injured in the machete attack that killed her husband Avijit Roy.

Roy was a Bangladeshi-born American citizen and skeptic who wrote controversial works in Bangladesh, including books that have been unofficially banned. Some of Roy’s works, including his books “The Philosophy of Incredulity” and “Homosexuality: A Scientific and Socio-psychological Investigation”, are on display at The Hague Fair.

The same is true of the books by a Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasreen, who fled her country after receiving death threats. Other books shown at the fair that have been officially or unofficially banned in Bangladesh include “The Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdie, according to organizers.

Bangladesh Publishing Houses Shrabon, Adarsha, Ongkur and University Press Limited join Suddhashar Publishing House from Tutul at the fair. Some will attend the fair while others will present their forbidden books.

Tutul emphasized the symbolism of the fair’s emphasis on prohibited books.

“It aims to project internationally the restrictions, barriers and situations created either by Islamists, which are against free thought and freedom of expression, or by the government of Bangladesh,” he told BenarNews.

Double attacks

Tutul, who has published books written by Roy, and bloggers Ranadipam Basu and Tareq Rahim were seriously injured when attackers attacked them with machetes on October 31, 2015. Faisal Arefin Dipan was killed in a similar attack on his house Jagriti edition the same day.

Even though he has fond memories of the Ekushey Fair, Tutul has grievances with his organizer.

“It has become a habit for the Bangla Academy to impose restrictions on the presentation of secular books at the book fair,” he said. “It would help if the authorities took drastic measures against piracy. “

Secular blogger Nastiker Dharmakatha, one of the main organizers of the Hague event, fled to the Netherlands following the slaughter of writers, publishers and other lay people in Bangladesh.

“This book fair is called the Freedom Book Fair with a slogan: ‘In solidarity with those who put their lives at risk for freedom of expression.’ So all the books that have been banned in different countries are important to us, ”he said.

“Last year the book fair was entirely dedicated to Bangladesh. Other countries, where press freedom is hampered, have joined this year. The people of Turkey and Somalia are working with us.

In addition to exhibitions of banned books, the fair offers panel discussions on freedom of expression against hate speech in the Netherlands, freedom of expression in Turkey, LGBT activism in religious societies, dissenting voices in the Bangladesh and freedom of expression, dialogue and conflict. resolution in Bangladesh.

Speakers scheduled include Bonya, Turkish lawmaker Hüda Kaya, Dutch writer Paul Cliteur and Bangladeshi activist Sultana Kamal.


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