Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Saturday, October 3, 1998 Published at 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK

World: South Asia

Bangladeshi writer fears for her life

Nasreen: My plight as bad as if Rushdie was in Iran

The controversial feminist writer, Taslima Nasreen, has appealed to the Bangladeshi Government to protect her from Islamic fundamentalists who she says want to kill her.

Nasreen: Fundamentalists want to kill me
In her first broadcast interview since slipping back into Bangladesh two weeks ago, Miss Nasreen told the BBC she was in hiding but wanted to stay in the country permanently.

Miss Nasreen, who fled Bangladesh four years ago after a warrant was issued for her arrest, said she had returned because her mother was dying of cancer.

Last week a court in Dhaka re-ordered Miss Nasreen's arrest in a revival of the 1994 investigation which had lain dormant while she was in exile.

The case centres on her book Selected Column, which Moslem fundamentalists say is blasphemous, and a later work, Shame, which advocates sex outside marriage.

Like Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie, Miss Nasreen is also the subject of a fatwa.

Islamic fundamentalists have offered a $2,500 bounty to anyone who kills her.

[ image: Fundamentalists have called for her death]
Fundamentalists have called for her death
Miss Nasreen told the BBC: ''I can't go out, I can't move and I'm in hiding. My mother is dying, I want to stay with her.

''I want to live in this country if the government provides me protection because they are demanding my death and the fundamentalists declare that if the government don't punish me they will kill me anyway.''

Miss Nasreen is urging democratic countries to put pressure on the Bangladeshi Government to protect her and to drop the charge of insulting Islamic religious feelings.

Nasreen: 'I need protection'

In an appeal headlined ''Help!'', published in the French newspaper Le Monde, she wrote: "In this desperate situation, with my mother sick, I need protection."

Miss Nasreen said thousands of fundamentalists had staged rallies in Dhaka over the past week demanding that she be hanged.

"They say that they will have to kill me themselves if the government does not arrest and hang me.''

But our correspondent David Chasan says there have only been small rallies in protest against her return - nothing on the scale of the protests four years ago.

This is partly perhaps because Bangladesh is still recovering from its worst floods in 100 years.

The arrests this week of three former ministers, accused of killing political leaders in jail in 1975, have also drawn public attention elsewhere.

'She is satan,' says fundamentalist

Police say they have been unable to find Miss Nasreen.

But the failure to arrest her has prompted speculation in Bangladeshi newspapers that the government is not really interested in prosecuting her and might even allow her to slip out of the country again.

Miss Nasreen said it was too dangerous for her to go to court and her lawyer would apply for bail.

But Moulana Fazlul Huq Amini, secretary-general of Islami Oikya Jote (Unity Alliance), has threatened to lay siege to Dhaka's Home Ministry building on Sunday if she has not been arrested by then.

"She is a Satan who dared to speak against Islam and its Prophet Mohammad," he said.

Bangladesh does not have a blasphemy law and police have not said what punishment Miss Nasreen might receive if convicted at trial.

With a fatwa hanging over her head her plight has been likened to Mr Rushdie's.

But in an interview with Britain's Independent newspaper she commented wryly: ''My situation is like Rushdie's would have been if he had been living in Iran.''

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

25 Sep 98 | UK
Rushdie delighted to be 'free'

25 Sep 98 | South Asia
Bangladesh police hunt feminist writer

05 Oct 98 | South Asia
Exiled writer returns to Bangladesh

Internet Links

An open letter from Salman Rushdie to Taslima Nasreen

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Sharif: I'm innocent

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

From Sport
Saqlain stars in Aussie collapse

Pakistan fears Afghan exodus

Hindu-Buddhist conference in Nepal

Afghan clerics issue bin Laden fatwa

Culture awards at Asian festival

Gandhi pleads for husband's killer

UN condemns Afghan bombing

Gandhi prize for Bangladeshi