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Tuesday, January 26, 1999 Published at 09:25 GMT

World: South Asia

Taslima goes back into exile

A protest march demanding the death of Taslima Nasreet

By David Chazan in Dhaka

The day before she left for Sweden, Taslima Nasreen told friends that she had received telephone calls renewing the death threat against her by Islamic militants.

She had already been granted extra police protection when a hit list of secular Bangladesh intellectuals was seized from suspected militants accused of attacking a well-known poet with pickaxes last week.

Security sources say her name topped that list and also a second similar one found in the possession of another group of armed Islamic radicals arrested in a remote hill area a few days ago.

Taslima Nasreen first went into exile in 1994 after a fatwah, or Islamic edict, was issued calling for her death.

She became a target because she wrote about religious intolerance and demanded equality for women.

She caused particular anger when a newspaper quoted her as calling for the Koran, the Muslim holy book, to be rewritten to give women greater rights.

She returned to Bangladesh in September to be with her mother, who died of cancer this month.

She remained mostly in hiding, appearing in public only for a court hearing at which she was granted bail on five-year old charges of insulting religion.

Her friends say she became increasingly alarmed after the attack against the poet. Shamsur Rahman, and recent reports of increased activity by Islamic militants in Bangladesh.

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