Thursday, April 05, 2012

Will Gunter Grass Face the Fate of Taslima and Rushdie?

Taslima Nasreen and Salman Rushdie have a new comrade-in-stirring a hornet's nest: German Nobel Laureate Gunter Grass. Grass has just published a poem that blasts (well, verbally of course) the nuclear program of Israel, calling it more dangerous to the world security than the nuclear program of Iran.

And with that- especially with that bit of comparing  it to Iran - Grass, a German, has committed a political blasphemy.

Lines from the controversial poem

The poem - titled "Was Gesagt Warden Muss" (meaning  What must be said) was published on Wednesday in several European publications's where I read it).  I got to learn of it only while trying to browse some Israeli newspapers. That's when I found the fiery reaction of a fuming Benjamin Netanyahu - the prime minister of Israel, calling Grass's action (read words) 'ignorant' and 'shameful' which should be 'condemned by the whole world'.

Now, I must admit, I am not a huge fan of Grass, though I loved his The Tin Drum (which I read in English translation). I have never counted him among my most favorite authors. Also, my knowledge of German is quite limited - maybe the reason why I actually liked the poem! But well, my lingual expertise - or the lack of it - apart,  if  Gunter Grass thinks Israel's nuclear bombs are no less dangerous than the bombs of any other country in the world, then that's his opinion (technically, all nuclear bombs do have equal power to kill) and he should have all the freedom and respect in the world to stick to it. Also, as a citizen who votes, if he thinks his government should stop aiding (which he says in the poem) Israel's nuclear program, then its his prerogative to say so. And he should be entitled to these thoughts no matter whether he is a German or of  any other nationality.
To brand him an anti-Jew or to see a neo-Nazi shadow in him is nothing but insanity. Unfortunately, Israel's reaction has already gone in that direction with the prime minister of Israel declaring Grass as 'anti-semitic.'

This reminds me of the time when Taslima Nasreen was called anti-Islam (for everyone's knowledge, the lady is actually an atheist - she doesn't subscribe to any religion) soon after she wrote about atrocities against Hindus in Bangladesh (yes, that's what Lajja was all about). Then, a prominent author in Bangladesh had written an op-ed saying "Amra emon na/ we are not like that" (I read that in a Bangladesh embassy library). Unfortunately, that modest style of denial was overtaken by religious zealots which then went on abusing and threatening to kill her.

Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, as we know, got him a fatwa straight from the highest authority in Iran.

How far will the Grass-bashing go now? Will it end with criticizing the man and rejection of his opinion? Or, will there be more militant moves such as banning of the poem (after all, banning seems to be the world's favorite way to protest) or sick action like threatening to shut the author up for good?

I really hope the last ones will never occur. Meanwhile though, I can't stop wondering if Rushdie and Taslima have anything to say on this yet?


parveenkomal said...

Very Nice Dear Very Nice

novisi said...

where it would end? Isreal now says he's a persona non grata!
such absurd reactions from a so called democratic state.

what is there to worry about Grass' poem if they have nothing to hide?

Stella Paul said...

@Parveen Komal: Thank you very much!

Stella Paul said...

@Novisi: Exactly! For all the tough attitude Israel dons, it is acting like a wimp this time, breaking down at the publication of a mere poem, which is a very rational criticism by an individual (and doesn't even reflect a nation's views) However, this declaration (persona non grata) is yet another step towards silencing voices of sanity and reason. Thanks for reading through and commenting! Much appreciated!