In traditional societies, we have a long legacy of men controlling the body and mind of women. Such societies have valorised motherhood and fabricated concepts like chastity. Women have been the victims of these notions for thousands of years.
I was born in a middle class Muslim family, in a small town called Myonenningh in a northern part of Bangladesh in 1962. My father is a qualified physician; my mother is a housewife. I have two elder brothers and one younger sister. All of them received a liberal education in schools and colleges.
I believe in absolute freedom of expression. Everyone has a right to offend and be offended.
I want to live in Kolkata; I don't want to live in Europe - I can't write there. I write in Bengali, and I need to be surrounded by the Bengali language and culture.
The fundamentalists are increasing. People, afraid to oppose those fundamentalists, shut their mouths. It is really very difficult to make people move against a sensitive issue like religion, which is the source of fundamentalism.
Women are oppressed in the east, in the west, in the south, in the north. Women are oppressed inside, outside home, a woman is oppressed in religion, she is oppressed outside religion.
All I ever want is to return to either Bangladesh, my motherland, or India, my adopted home.
Those religions that are oppressive to women are also against democracy, human rights, and freedom of expression.
Nature says women are human beings, men have made religions to deny it. Nature says women are human beings, men cry out no!
I write against the religion because if women want to live like human beings, they will have to live outside the religion and Islamic law.
Koranic teaching still insists that the sun moves around the earth. How can we advance when they teach things like that?
When I write, I don't allow the fear of consequences to interfere with the writing process. I have in the past paid for my commitment to the truth and the way I live my life. I am prepared to pay more if I have to.
I have had fatwas issued against me, some three in Bangladesh and another five in India. I will not be cowed by these threats and shall fight for my rights.
Sheikh Hasina's government is one of the best Bangladesh has ever had. She is taking action against fundamentalists. But even she refused to let me return. I don't think I can ever return home.
It is unfair to label me anti-Islam. I am an atheist and a secular humanist.
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