Some reading on free expression in South Asia


From S&S:

Himal 07.02.2012 (Nepal)

Filmmaker Hira Nabi explains how hard it is for for gays and lesbians in Pakistan. “It is not just that the penal code criminalises homosexuality, however. Certain tenants of Islam as practiced in Pakistan also condemn it. On the ground, this is more effective than the inherited colonial law, as the fear of committing a ‘sin‘ tends to carry far more relevance for most than the fear of being charged under Article 377. Southasian history is steeped in evidence of fluid sexual practice, but in modern-day Pakistan there has been significant re-writing of history. Classical poetry carries references to homoeroticism; monuments and legends bear witness to queer love affairs and homosexual devotion; love is celebrated regardless of orientation. This past, however, is not easily reclaimed. Polyamorous love – having multiple sexual partners at any given time – has also been written out of the region’s many histories, and has largely disappeared from the public imagination.”

Outlook India  13.02.2012 (India)

Sony Pictures caused some confusion in India by announcing last week that it will not be releasing David Fincher‘s new screen adaptation of Stieg Larsson‘s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” in India. After all, the Indian censorship board  announced back in December that some alterations would be necessary, explainsNamrata Joshi, and Sony has not objected to film scenes being pixellated in other countries. “All this comes as a blow at a time when the Central Board of Film Certification has been trying to take a step forward towards becoming less restrictive. Last year saw a clutch of mainstream Hindi films given ‘A’ certificates without cuts. A long, gay kiss was allowed in ‘I Am’ and ‘Delhi Belly’ got away with foul language and references to oral sex. (…) What would go a long way is a sound rating scheme rather than censoring or bans.”

openDemocracy 28.01.2012 (UK)

N. Jayaram is annoyed by the hypocrisy of the politicians in India. On the one had they make it impossible for Salman Rushdie to attend the Jaipur Literary Festival, on the other they complain in Russia that the Russian Orthodox Church in the Siberian town of Tomsk has appealed for a ban on the Bhagavad Gita: “The Gita is considered sacred by Hindus and India’s parliamentary business was interrupted at length as government and opposition leaders vied with one another in condemning the move in faraway Tomsk, whose court eventually threw out the appeal.”

Eurozine 22.01.2012 (Austria in English)

Freedom of opinion is no longer regarded as something principally good, but as a threat, writesKenan Malik in response to the threats against Salman Rushdie‘s life which preventing him from attending the Jaipur Literature Festival. “Social justice requires not just that individuals are treated as political equals, but also that their cultural beliefs are given equal recognition and respect. The avoidance of cultural pain has, therefore, come to be regarded as more important than the abstract right to freedom of expression. As the British sociologist Tariq Modood has put it, ‘If people are to occupy the same political space without conflict, they mutually have to limit the extent to which they subject each others’ fundamental beliefs to criticism.’ What the anti-Baals of today most fear is starting arguments. What they most want is for the world to go to sleep.”


The Economist also looks at the repression of homosexuality in the Muslim world.

More here.



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