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Friday, September 25, 1998 Published at 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK

World: South Asia

Bangladesh police hunt feminist writer

Taslima Nasreen fled her country four years ago after blasphemy allegations

Police in Bangladesh are searching for the controversial feminist writer, Taslima Nasreen, after a court in the capital, Dhaka, issued a warrant for her arrest on charges of blasphemy.

Womens' rights activist Kushi Kabir discusses the case
The move follows Miss Nasreen's surprise return to Bangladesh last week after four years of self-imposed exile.

She has not been seen in public since her arrival.

Religious feelings hurt

[ image: Muslim fundamentalists have staged several protests against Taslima Nasreen]
Muslim fundamentalists have staged several protests against Taslima Nasreen
The court also ordered her property to be seized as part of the revival of the case that was originally filed four years ago.

The petition was first filed in 1994 by a devout Muslim, Zainal Abedin Babul.

He claimed her book "Nirbachito Kolum" (Selected Columns) had insulted Islam and hurt his religious feelings.

Offending remarks

Miss Nasreen was charged with offending religious sentiment in a newspaper interview she gave after the publication of her novel "Lajja" (Shame), which dealt with communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims - and has been banned in Bangladesh.

An Indian newspaper quoted her as having said that the Koran should be revised to take into account women's' rights.

But Miss Nasreen has denied making such remarks.

Muslim protests

Several Muslim fundamentalist groups rallied again in the capital, Dhaka, on Friday, protesting against Miss Nasreen.

On Tuesday Muslim groups had again staged protests demanding Taslima Nasreen be tried for blasphemy and hanged.

An non-issued fatwa

Taslima Nasreen, a doctor, writer and women's' rights activist, left Bangladesh secretly in 1994 for Sweden.

She later visited France, Germany and Britain before moving to the United States.

Her sympathisers in the West compare her position with that of the British novelist, Salman Rushdie, against whom Iran issued a fatwa.

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An open letter from Salman Rushdie to Taslima Nasreen

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