Freethought Heroine Award

Taslima Nasrin – 2002

Taslima Nasrin is living proof of the threat posed to women's liberty by fundamentalist religion. The Bengali author and physician has been subject to a series of fatwas, or religious sanctions, condemning her to death in 1994 for blasphemy. A price was put on her head by her country's "holy men," with the government of Bangladesh bringing criminal charges against her for defaming the Moslem faith in her writings. Thousands demonstrated regularly, sometimes daily, to demand her death. After two terrifying months in hiding, Taslima Nasrin fled her native country, seeking refuge in Sweden and other countries.

Nasrin became an anesthesiologist in the gynecological department of a hospital. She began writing poems and articles. A column that was syndicated in 1990 drew attention to the plight of women, including the execution of a young woman at the orders of a local mullah. Shortly after her novella Shame was published in 1993, the first fatwa was issued against her. She has written several books of poetry, essays, a novel and her autobiography. "Religion is the great oppressor, and should be abolished," she has often stated.

In a very moving speech, Taslima Nasrin accepted the "Freethought Heroine" Award in person on Nov. 23, 2002, at the 25th annual convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, in San Diego.

For the full speech click here

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