Oct 2002: Nasrin sentenced to jail term in exile.
August 1999: The Bangladesh Government has banned the latest
novel by feminist writer, Taslima Nasreen on the grounds that its
contents might hurt the existing social system and religious
sentiments of the people. All copies of the book in Bengali titled
"Amar Meyebela" (My Childhood Days) published last month in Calcutta
have been seized.
Amar Meyebela is available online in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, for those who read Bengali. Courtesy of humanists.net
A page full of speeches,
poems and letters by and about Nasrin from humanists.net
Taslima Nasrin -- Warren Allen Smith's page of frequently updated information.
1994: Bangladesh Author Nasrin Flees to Sweden to Escape Death Threats By ELISABET SODERSTROM Associated Press Writer STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ A feminist Bangladeshi writer under a death threat from Islamic extremists fled Wednesday to Sweden, where she immediately went into hiding. Taslima Nasrin spent two months in hiding in Bangladesh, where Muslim fundamentalists were infuriated by a newspaper article that quoted her as urging a revision of the Koran, the Islamic holy book. Extremist groups have offered a $5,000 reward for her death. Ms. Nasrin, 32, has said she was misquoted. But she has called for changes in strict rules that limit many women in Bangladesh to housework and child-rearing. ``I've come to Sweden ... to rest and work,'' the author said in a statement distributed by Sweden's branch of the PEN international writers' organization, which is hosting her. Swedish officials welcomed Ms. Nasrin, whose plight has drawn comparisons to Salman Rushdie's years in seclusion. Culture Minister Birgit Friggebo said the author was ``forced to leave her country for using her natural rights to write and say whatever she wants.'' In Bangladesh, fundamentalist groups denounced the government for letting Ms. Nasrin leave. ``If the government fails to bring her back to the country and put her on trial, the people will topple the government and put its leaders on trial for betraying the cause of Islam,'' said Shafiul Alam Prodhan, spokesman for a coalition of 13 fundamentalist groups. Abdul Kader Mollah, spokesman for Bangladesh's leading fundamentalist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, said the government ``will have to pay a very heavy price'' for letting Ms. Nasrin go. Ms. Nasrin is charged by a Bangladeshi court with offending the religious sentiments of Muslims, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. She surrendered on Aug. 3 and was granted bail and allowed to visit other countries if she informed the judge. No trial date has been set. ``She was free to go anywhere she liked and that's what she did,'' Bangladeshi Home Secretary Azimuddin Ahmed said. Traveling on a tourist visa, Ms. Nasrin arrived in Stockholm around midday. The Swedish foreign minister, Margaretha af Ugglas, said Ms. Nasrin was staying at a ``secret place,'' but refused to give any other information about her arrival. It was uncertain how long Ms. Nasrin would stay in Sweden. She has been invited to a writers' conference next month in Norway, where the government has said it would consider offering her asylum. Asked whether Sweden also might offer Ms. Nasrin asylum, af Ugglas said that was up to the author to decide. ``She has gotten invitations from many other countries,'' af Ugglas said. ``What she needs now is rest. ... She was free to leave Bangladesh and she is free to go back at any time.'' Ms. Nasrin is being hosted by the Swedish branch of PEN, which had invited her to visit last spring, according to the Swedish news agency TT. The Swedish PEN also was active in supporting Rushdie, the Indian-born author who has been in hiding since 1989, when Iran declared his novel ``The Satanic Verses'' blasphemous to Islam and put a bounty on his head. On a recent visit to Oslo, Norway, Rushdie spoke on behalf of Ms. Nasrin and criticized Bangladeshi authorities for not standing up to fundamentalists. Ms. Nasrin, a physician, angered Muslim activists last year with her novel ``Shame,'' which depicted Muslim persecution of Bangladesh's Hindu minority. She has written extensively in newspapers and books advocating greater freedom for women in the predominately Muslim country.
New York Times, 7/14/94 Following is an open letter from Salman Rushdie to Taslima Nasrin, a Bangladeshi physician, newspaper columnist and author of the novel "Shame," who is under death threats from Muslim clerics and faces criminal charges from the Government for allegedly criticizing the Koran. Mr. Rushdie, who has been in hiding since being sentenced to death by Iranian religious leaders in 1989, is organizing an international protest on Ms. Nasrin's behalf by other prominent writers. By Salman Rushdie I am sure you have become tired of being called "the female Salman Rushdie" - what a bizarre and comical creature that would be! - when all along you thought you were the female Taslima Nasrin. I am sorry my name has been hung around your neck, but please know that there are many people in many countries working to make sure that such sloganizing does not obscure your identity, the unique features of your situation and the importance of fighting to defend you and your rights against those who would cheerfully see you dead. In reality it is our adversaries who seem to have things in common, who seem to believe in divine sanction for lynching and terrorism. So instead of turning you into a female me, the headline writers should be describing your opponents as "the Bangladeshi Iranians." How sad it must be to believe in a God of blood! What an Islam they have made, these apostles of death, and how important it is to have the courage to dissent from it! Great writers have agreed to lend their weight to the campaign on your behalf: Czeslaw Milosz, Mario Vargas Llosa, Milan Kundera and more. When such campaigns were run on my behalf, I found them immensely cheering, and I know that they helped shape public opinion and government attitudes in many countries. You have spoken out about the oppression of women under Islam, and what you said needed saying. In the West, there are too many eloquent apologists working to convince people of the fiction that women are not discriminated against in Muslim countries or that, if they are, it has nothing to do with the religion. The sexual mutilation of women, according to this argument, has no basis in Islam. This may be true in theory, but in many countries where this goes on, the mullahs wholeheartedly support it. And then there are the countless crimes of violence within the home, the inequalities of legal systems that value women's evidence below that of men, the driving of women out of the workplace in all countries where Islamists have come to, or even near to power. You have spoken out about the attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh after the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque in India by Hindu extremists. Yet any fair-minded person would agree that a religious attack by Muslims on innocent Hindus is as bad as an attack by Hindus on innocent Muslims. Such simple fairness is the target of the bigots' rage, and it is that fairness which, in defending you, we seek to defend. You are accused of having said that the Koran should be revised (though you have said that you were referring only to Islamic religious code). You may have seen that only last week the Turkish authorities have announced a project to revise these codes, so in that regard at least you are not alone. And even if you did say that the Koran should be revised to remove its ambiguities about the rights of women, and even if every Muslim man in the world were to disagree with you, it would remain a perfectly legitimate opinion, and no society which wishes to jail or hang you for expression it can call itself free. Simplicity is what fundamentalists always say they are after, but in fact they are obscurantists in all things. What is simple is to agree that if one may say "God exists" then another may also say "God does not exist"; that if one may say "I loathe this book" then another may also say "But I like it very much." What is not at all simple is to be asked to believe that there is only one thruth, one way of expressing that truth, and one punishment (death) for those who say this isn't so. As you know, Taslima, Bengali culture - and I mean the culture of Bangladesh as well as the Indian Bengal - has always prided itself on its openness, its freedom to think and argue, its lack of bigotry. It is a disgrace that your Government has chosen to side with the religious extremists against their own history, their own civilization, their own values. It is the treasure-house of the intelligence, the imagination and the word that your opponents are trying to loot. I have seen and heard reports that you are all sorts of dreadful things - a difficult woman, an advocate (horror of horrors) of free love. Let me assure you that those of use who are working on your behalf are well aware that character assissination is normal in such situations, and must be discounted. And simplicity again has something valuable to say on this issue: even difficult advocates of free love must be allowed to stay alive, otherwise we sould be left only with those who believe that love is something for which there must be a price - perhaps a terrible price - to pay. Taslima, I know that there must be a storm inside you now. One minute you will feel weak and helpless, another strong and defiant. Now you will feel betrayed and alone, and now you will have the sense of standing for many who are standing silently with you. Perhaps in your darkest moments you will feel you did something wrong - that those demanding your death may have a point. This of all your goblins you must exorcise first. You have done nothing wrong. The wrong is committed by others against you. You have done nothing wrong, and I am sure that one day soon you will be free.
Character You're a girl and you'd better not forget that when you step over the threshold of your house men will look askance at you. When you keep walking down the lane men will follow you and whistle. When you cross the lane and step onto the main road men will revile you and call you a loose woman. If you've got no character you'll turn back, and if not you'll keep on going, as you're going now.
Taslima's right to live in Bangladesh defended DHAKA, Sept. 21 (Agencies) In the first published appeal defending controversial author Taslima Nasreen's right to live in Bangladesh, eminent author Anwara Syed Haq has mounted a strident offensive against the fundamentalists. "It is my fervent appeal to all of you to see to it that these fundamentalist groups under no circumstances could snatch away the rights and sovereignty of womenfolk centering Taslima", she said in an article in the leading Bengali daily Sangbad. Nasreen returned to Bangladesh on Sept. 14 following four years of self exile after her novel Lajja (shame) attracted the ire of fundamentalists on whose pressure the police issued an arrest warrant against the doctor-turned-author.
Muslim clerics launch fresh campaign against Taslima The Hindu Sunday, September 27, 1998 8:00 p.m. IST Dhaka, Sept 27 (DPA): Radical Muslim clerics in Bangladesh today mounted a fresh campaign demanding that feminist writer Taslima Nasreen be tried for blasphemy under Islamic laws. Clerics called for Ms Nasreen's arrest and announced a country-wide protest against the reported return of the 38-year-old writer to Bangladesh about two weeks ago. ``Taslima Nasreen can only be tried under the Shahria laws, which provide for the death sentence for such sinners,'' said Shaikul Hadith Azizul Huq, chief of the Islamic United Alliance, which is spearheading the campaign. Bangladesh, does not follow Shahria laws except in matters of inheritance and Muslim marriages. Mr Huq said thousands of Islamic protesters would take to the streets on October 4 warning the secular government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina against sheltering Nasreen. The move by the clerics followed an arrest warrant issued by a local criminal court against Ms Nasreen on Friday to answer to charges of anti-Islamic writings.
DHAKA, Nov 22 (AFP) - Feminist writer Taslima Nasreen, who spent four years in exile on charges of blasphemy, surrendered to the Bangladesh High Court Sunday in a surprise appearance where she was granted bail, officials said. Nasreen secretly returned to Bangladesh in September after going into hiding in Sweden to escape death threats from Islamic fundamentalists in her home country. The young writer looked nervous as she entered the court, accompanied by her lawyers and relatives and carrying a lower court warrant for her arrest on a blasphemy charge, a witness said. She made no statement after emerging from the brief unscheduled hearing before senior judges Kazi Ebadul Huq and Awlad Ali. Senior lawyer Dr. Kamal Hossain appeared in her defence, said officials who declined to give further details on the case. Bangladeshi Joynal Abedin filed the charge in June 1994, amid accusations Nasreen had blasphemed against the Koran in her novel "Lajja" (Shame). The writer returned to Dhaka secretly in September to look after her ailing mother. Nasreen has complained that she continued to receive threats and was obliged to live in a safe house here. The dramatic court appearance and granting of bail came two weeks after Bangladesh's main fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party reportedly announced a 100,000 taka (2,000 dollar) reward for tracking her down. Press reports early this month said the Jamaat branch in the southeastern port city of Chittagong announced the reward for anyone who could deliver her to police by November 15. The party later denied it had issued any such offer, but said "Nasreen must face legal action for hurting the religious sentiment of the people -- this is the party's statement and announcement."
DHAKA, Jan 12 (AFP) - The mother of feminist writer Taslima Nasreen has died of cancer four months after her daughter defied death threats to return with her to Bangladesh, family sources said Tuesday. Idul Owara, 61, died late Monday at her home in a village in the northern Mymensingh district, they said, adding that Nasreen was at her bedside along with other family members. Dhaka's Bengaili daily newspaper Bhorer Kagoj reported that Owara would be buried later Tuesday at a village graveyard. No other details were available and Nasreen was unavailable for comment. Nasreen secretly returned to Bangladesh from New York in September along with her ailing mother after going into hiding in Sweden to escape death threats from Islamic fundamentalists in her home country. The doctors who treated her mother in the United States had given her only a few months to survive. Nasreen was later quoted as saying that she returned to Bangladesh to be with her mother in her last days. Since her return Nasreen has gone into hiding, saying she continued to receive death threats. She stayed out of sight until late November when she suddenly appeared before a Dhaka court which granted her bail. The controversial writer spent four years in exile and was facing charges of blasphemy. Bangladeshi Joynal Abedin filed the charge in June 1994, amid accusations that Nasreen had blasphemed the Koran in her novel "Lajja" (Shame).
DHAKA, Jan 24 (AFP) - Feminist writer Taslima Nasreen has received further death threats after a leading Bangladeshi poet escaped an attempt on his life by Moslem fundamentalists, police said here Sunday. An official in Dhaka said police had been asked to ensure the writer's security after she requested protection following several anonymous death threat telephone calls made in the past three days to her family home in northern Mymensingh district, 68 miles (109 kilometres) from Dhaka. The threats came after police last week arrested 10 alleged members of a Moslem extremist group after an attempt on the life of poet Shamsur Rahman at his Dhaka residence. During the arrests, police said they seized a list of several intellectuals and writers including Nasreen, whom local Islamic fundamentalist groups had branded as "enemies of Islam." "The arrested people claimed to be members of a group namely Harkat-uz-Zihad and confessed that they had planned to kill the listed persons," one police official said on Saturday, adding a massive manhunt was launched across the country to arrest the alleged gang leader. Nasreen secretly returned to Bangladesh from New York in September along with her ailing mother after going into hiding in September along with her ailing mother after going into hiding in Sweden to escape death threats from Islamic fundamentalists in her home country. Since her return Nasreen has gone into hiding, saying she continued to receive death threats. She stayed out of sight until late November when she suddenly appeared before a Dhaka court which granted her bail. Nasreen, who spent four years in exile, was facing a charge of blasphemy filed by Bangladeshi Joynal Abedin in June 1994, amid accusations that Nasreen had blasphemed the Koran in her novel "Lajja" (Shame). Her mother Idul Owara, 61, died earlier this month at her home village with Nasreen at her bedside along with other family members.
STOCKHOLM, Jan 26 (AFP) - Bangladesh's feminist writer Taslima Nasreen has returned to Sweden, officials said here Tuesday, after she fled renewed Moslem death threats at home. Nasreen was staying at a secret location in Sweden following her arrival here on Monday, foreign ministry spokesman Jens Odlander told TT news agency. The foreign ministry had been expecting Nasreen, who has a permanent residency visa to Sweden, after contacts with Bangladesh authorities, Odlander said. He did not want to comment on why she chose to return to Sweden, which she first fled to in 1994. "I think it is fair to let her tell us herself, when she chooses to do so," he said. "She has many friends here, but I do not know what they plan to do." She had left Bangladesh on a British Airways flight, reports from Dhaka said. After Bangkadesh's celebrated poet Shamsur Rahman escaped an assassination attempt earlier this month from extreme rightwing Moslem fundamentalist groups, Nasreen sought government protection. Those arrested from Rahman's residence after the attempt on his life told police Nasreen was on their hit list. Nasreen returned to Bangladesh secretly from New York in September with her ailing mother, who died of cancer early this month. When she first fled Bangladesh to escape death threats from Islamic fundamentalists in her home country she headed initially to Sweden. Since her return Nasreen had remained in hiding, saying she continued to receive death threats. She stayed out of sight until late November when she suddenly appeared before a Dhaka court which granted her bail. Nasreen, who spent four years in exile, was facing charges of blasphemy. Bangladeshi Joynal Abedin filed the charge in June 1994, amid accusations that Nasreen had blasphemed the Koran in her novel "Lajja" (Shame), which the writer repeatedly denied.
South Asian Women authors