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Bangladesh teacher arrested over banned book

Author Taslima Nasreen. — File photo

DHAKA: A head teacher in Bangladesh has been arrested after a banned book regarded by some Muslims as blasphemous was found in her college, police said Wednesday.

Yunus Ali was arrested from the KC Technical and Business Management College in the coastal district of Pirojpur after police discovered a copy of Taslima Nasreen's novel “Lajja” (“Shame”) in the college library, police inspector Abdul Malek said.

Nasreen was forced to flee the country in 1994 after radical Muslims accused her of blasphemy over the novel, which depicts the life of a Hindu family persecuted by Muslims in Bangladesh.

The novel was banned a year after publication in 1993 under legislation in Muslim-majority Bangladesh that outlaws “inflammatory statements”.

The 49-year-old gynaecologist-turned-author now lives mostly in Europe and India, where she has also been hounded into hiding by death threats from religious extremists.

“Lajja is a banned book. Still, the principal had it in the college library,” Malek said, adding Ali faced prosecution and could be jailed up to three years if found guilty.

Ali said he was a victim of conspiracy, according to mass-circulated Bengali daily Prothom Alo.

Pirated copies of Lajja are widely available in local book shops and markets in Bangladesh.

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