Feb 14 – Free Speech Day #flashreads

THE IDEA: To celebrate free speech and to protest book bans, censorship in the arts and curbs on free expression.


For two reasons. In 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering the death of Salman Rushdie for writing the Satanic Verses. In GB Shaw’’s words: “Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.”

February 14th or Valentine’s Day has also become a flashpoint in India, a day when protests against “Western culture” by the Shiv Sena have become an annual feature. In Chandigarh, 51 Sena activists were arrested by the police after V-day protests turned violent in 2011. Our hope is to take back the day, and observe it as a day dedicated to the free flow of ideas, speech and expression.

#flashreads is a simple way of registering your protest against the rising intolerance that has spread across India in the last few decades. At any time on February 14th—we suggest 3 pm, but pick a time of your convenience—go out with a friend or a group of friends and do a quick reading

For instance, you could read AK Ramanujan’s Three Hundred Ramayanas,which was withdrawn from Delhi University’s syllabus after protests from Hindu right wing groups.

Read more here: http://akhondofswat.blogspot.in/2012/02/flashreads-for-february-14th.html


23 thoughts on “Feb 14 – Free Speech Day #flashreads

  1. Sounds interesting.

    I actually read The Satanic Verses several years after it was banned in India.
    It was a few days after the 9/11 attacks in New York and I was in Reykjavik for a newspaper merger deal. There I was, relaxing in a hotel room, watching a televised debated about Islamic fundamentalism and so forth, when someone mentioned the book. It struck me that it would be a lot easier to find the book in a liberal haven like Iceland than it would be back home in Canada, so I set about in search of it and found it quickly enough. It was an average book, nothing really superlative about it. But it did give me a bit of a thrill to flip the finger at fundamentalists.

    I’d be happy to do that all over again today. The fundies can go suck their thumbs.


  2. Wow! can’t believe I’m second to comment today.
    I think the people who believe in boycotts or suppression do that because they do not have valid or logical arguments capable of supporting their views. Its hard to convince, easy to suppress sometimes.

    Also free speech should be the fundamental core of any democratic society as long as it does not involve slander/libel of individuals or a threat to their physical safety and property. What is the difference between a country like India and North Korea then if we cannot read or talk freely.


  3. Great idea! I am joining too by reading AK Ramanujan’s Three Hundred Ramayanas…

    Wish those who are opposing it would join too – just to find out what is in there that they so vehemently oppose or if it is worth opposing!!!


  4. I am wondering what kind of censorship is acceptable in freedom of expression. A total freedom without any responsibility cannot be allowed. For example, hate speeches instigating violence against a particular community is a strict no no. What about making fun of people’s religious beliefs? A lot of stories in religious books don’t hold out in scientific light…like Christ walking on water or Hanuman carrying a whole mountain and a lot of parodies have been made out of them (e.g. The Monty Python movies). Is it acceptable?


  5. Fntastic Idea !
    It’s amazing isn’t it we live in the largest democracy in the world and we actually have to fight for Free Speech .. and if things go on as they are, we bloggers might soon have to fight for freedom to blog as well !!


  6. I’m reading The Ramayana as told by Aubrey Menen.

    I had no idea a retelling of an old sacred text could be so enjoyable.

    The very first paragraph had me chuckling, and going “I know why they banned this book in India!”

    It’s the story of Rama, a prince of India, who lived his life according to the best advice. He reverenced his intellectual betters, who were called Brahmins, and did what they told him to do. He took his morals from the best moralists, and his politics from the most experienced politicians. As a result, he was ruined, exiled, and disinherited: his wife was stolen from him and when he got her back he very nearly had to burn her alive from the highest of motives. In the teeth of the soundest and most reliable guidance from his moral and mental superiors, he finally recovered his country,his throne, and his common sense. He lived more than two thousand five hundred years ago but everybody will recognize his experiences.



  7. Pingback: Now, ‘Flashread’ to rescue freedom of speech « kracktivist

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