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Festivity of the Erwin Fischer Award 2002 to Ms. Taslima Nasrin

Source: IBKA Newsletter 12/2002

Within a festivity during the course of the international congress the Erwin Fischer Award was awarded to the author and physician Dr. Taslima Nasrin on September 21, 2002.

René Hartmann, Taslima Nasrin, and Rudolf LadwigThe press photographers as well as many guests took a lot of photos of the prize winner and the board of IBKA.

The activities during the festivity were opened and accompanied by the jazzband "Else's New Orleans Gumbo" and the audience was carried away. Only some people would have preferred a more classical style.

As there was an international audience Erika Krüger presented the evening in German and English.
Ursula Neumann speaking

Dipl.-Psych. Ms. Ursula Neumann, member of the IBKA council and Erwin Fischer Award-winner in 2000, explained why Ms. Nasrin had won the prize. She spoke of Taslima Nasrin's life, especially of her childhood. Not the persecution itself is honoured, but the courage to stand to one's own opinion, to overcome one's fear consequently even under persecution.

At the end of her speech Ms. Neumann spoke about the persons who critized Ms. Nasrin. These are not only fundamentalists but also "this unspeakable Ms. (Annegret) Schimmel" who reproached Ms. Nasrin that she had awakened "this small group of fundamentalistic moslems, who act according to the motto: anyone who wants to make use of human rights must do it only there where it will disturb nobody" as Ms. Neumann said.
Christa Stolle speaking

The following laudatio was held by Ms. Christa Stolle, the secretary of "Terre des Femmes" a human and women's rights organization. Above all she valued Taslima Nasrin's work for human rights with the "pencil as a weapon" as Ms. Nasrin leaves no doubt for in her books that religion is the source for inequality and injustice. According to Ms. Stoll Ms. Nasrin unmasks religion as an instrument for suppression against women, people with an other opinion and poor people.

Ms. Stolle also spoke about the "argument" that every group of the population should live according to their "own culture" (their religious and cultural values). This she denied clearly quoting Ms. Nafis Sadik, the former executive director of the UN Population Fund :"We must not yield to pseudo arguments who refer to culture or traditional values. Nothing that suppresses or enslaves women can be called cultural value. Culture and tradition are to form a space for human well-being. If they are used against us we must refuse them." The audience applauded spontaneously at this quotation.

Ms. Nasrin's word of thanks became a reckoning with the religions and especially with the Islam. For here there is no difference between religion and religious fundamentalism as can be seen at the example of September 11, 2001 in New York. Ms. Nasrin quoted several exemplary parts of the Koran which do not demand love but stir up to hate and fight. The reason for this is that Mohammed demanded tolerance only at the beginning of his religious career when the Islam was a local minority.

Facing the religious fanatism Ms. Nasrin asked what one could do. She strictly declined force - for example bombs on Afghanistan or Iraq - as a remedy. She were "deeply convinced that freedom of thought, democracy, human rights and women's rights can never coexist - with religion!"
Taslima Nasrin speaking

Ms. Nasrin ended her speech remembering John Lennon's beautiful song "Imagine there's no heaven ?"

The evening finished with another contribution of "Else's New Orleans Gumbo" and some interesting talks between several guests.

All speeches to the Erwin Fischer Award will be published in a commemorative volume in spring 2003. According to the decision of IBKA's general gathering this commemorative volume will be dedicated to the former member of the council, Ms. Dr. Ingrid Kämmerer, who died in 2001.