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Tuesday, December 1, 1998 Published at 17:00 GMT

World: South Asia

Taslima defies death threats

Taslima Nasreen fled Bangladesh after receiving death threats

The Bangladeshi feminist author, Taslima Nasreen, has spoken out in defiance of death threats by Islamic groups.

Taslima Nasreen: If I don't believe in religion, nobody should have the right to kill me for that reason
In her first television interview since returning from exile in September, the author told the BBC that any religion that persecutes others of different faiths was unacceptable.

Taslima Nasreen said no one had the right to kill her because she wasn't religious: "I think that religious scriptures are out of time and out of place.

"If any religion allows the persecution of the people of different faiths, if any religion keeps women in slavery, if any religion keeps people in ignorance, then I can't accept that religion.

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"And if I am not a religious person, if I don't believe in religion, I think that it's my right but nobody should have the right to kill me for that reason."

She said it was her hope that she wouldn't have to go into exile to keep writing: "It's my country. I love my country. I write for my people and my aim is to change this society so I need to live here.

"I need to write about the people of this society and also I need to remain close with the oppressed women so that I can write about their plight, about their suffering."

Her comments came after she was granted bail last week on four-year-old charges of insulting religious feelings.

"I understand why the fundamentalists and religious people don't like me, but, you know, what I wanted to do, I told the truth.

"And I wanted to wake woman up because they are taught for centuries that they were the slaves of men, so I wanted to break their shackles.

Taslima Nasreen fled the country in 1994 after receiving death threats from Islamic groups.

She had been charged with insulting religious feelings following the publication the previous year of a newspaper interview in which she was quoted as calling for the Koran to be rewritten to give more rights to women.

She went back to Bangladesh to care for her mother who is dying from cancer. And last week she appeared in court to be formally charged, and was granted bail.

She remains in hiding and under threat of death.

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