Space for talks, tolerance a way out from Islamic radicalism, says Bangladeshi Novelist Shazia Omar

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Kolkata | Published: January 28, 2017 11:27:56 AM

She said women should become leaders and break the historical stereotypes of being dominated.

Kolkata Literary Meet - 2017. (YouTube grab)Kolkata Literary Meet – 2017. (YouTube grab)

Saying that terrorism has now become increasingly malignant, Bangladeshi Novelist Shazia Omar has said creating more space for dialogue and tolerance is the way to fight Islamic radicalism. “In this age of technology the spread of terrorism is becoming much more malignant,” Omar said on Friday during an interactive session at the Kolkata Literary Meet here.

Speaking on the subject “triple challenges of Islamophobia, stereotypes and radicalisation”, the author of the 2016 novel ‘Black Diamond’ stressed the need for knowledge, education and interaction to take on Islamic radicalism. “The best way to fight it (Islamic radicalisation) is to create space for people to have dialogue, have tolerance to live and let live and through knowledge, education and more interaction, maybe we can break away from the increasingly homogeneous interpretation of what Islam should be and make space for more expression,” Omar said.

The product of the London School of Economics said women should become leaders and break the historical stereotypes of being dominated. “Throughout history we have seen this imbalance where women have not been in positions of power. Women should be encouraged to become leaders. If the whole world is led by women, I wonder if we would still have incidents like a war or building walls,” she said amid much cheer from the audience.

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Omar described how with her three run-ins with terrorism in three continents, she felt the scourge was coming closer, and said the spread of the “radical ideology and the way some people are taking it into their heart is very frightening”. “Little pockets of terrorism are springing up everywhere,” she lamented.

The novelist said she was in New York during the 2001 World Trade Center attack and then she considered the terrorist threat to be a “distant enemy”. But her idea of terrorism changed during the 2005 London tube station bombings as “the bombers were just like a guy with a backpack sitting next to you”.

Her third brush with terrorism during the attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka on July 1 last year was “most horrifying”. Omar said the Spanish cafe belonged to her cousin. The massacre left 29 persons, including five attackers, dead. “It was done by the boys who went to the same school my cousins went to. It seemed the distant enemy has increasingly come closer and closer,” she said.

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