Arundhati Roy’s letter to her jailed comrade Shahidul Alam, who has now been granted bail

Arundhati-By Shahidul

Arundhati Roy with a furry friend. Photo by Shahidul Alam.

Read Arundhati Roy’s letter to Shahidul Alam as part of PEN International’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer, 15 November. Today the Dhaka High Court also finally granted bail to Shahidul Alam, been incarcerated for over 100 days. He has yet to be actually released — the government is appealing the court’s decision.

Every November 15 PEN highlights the cases of five persecuted writers and activists imprisoned, killed, persecuted or otherwise at risk for their work. This year’s campaign focuses on Dawit Isaak imprisoned in Eritrea, Miroslava Breach Velducea killed in Mexico, Oleg Sentsov imprisoned in Russia, Shahidul Alam detained in Bangladesh and Wael Abbas imprisoned in Egypt. Writers David Lagercrantz, Jennifer Clement, Tom Stoppard, Salil Tripathi and Khaled Hosseini are also participating in this year’s campaign. Continue reading

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The MF Husain controversy: Identity, intent and the rise of militant fascism

I wrote this essay for Nukta Art in September, for its November issue which has just been published

Beena Sarwar

Cover March 2009

Communalism Combat cover, March 2009: Fighting back

The campaign against the iconic Indian artist Maqbool Fida Husain, perhaps the most prominent living symbol of art under attack, is part of the political fight for India’s soul – secular democracy versus a ‘Hindu’ state.

Several interrelated issues arise from this situation, linked with intent, identity, politics, religion, the role of the state, and of course the nature of ‘art’ itself. The illogical controversy has unfortunately been allowed to overshadow the artist’s phenomenal, critically acclaimed work itself both in India and abroad.

Continue reading

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