Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen leaves for US after Islamist threats

June 03, 2015


Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen. — Photo by AFP
Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen. — Photo by AFP

DELHI: Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen said Wednesday she had left her home in India for the United States after receiving death threats from Islamists behind the recent murders of atheist bloggers in her home country.

Nasreen, who fled to Europe in 1994 after protests against her work by Muslim extremists and who now lives in New Delhi, tweeted that she did not feel safe in the Indian capital.

“Was threatened by Islamists who killed atheist bloggers in B'desh.

Worried,” she tweeted. “Will be back when feel safe."

Nasreen, 52, said she had asked for a meeting with India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh after receiving death threats but had received no response.

The move came weeks after masked attackers hacked secular blogger Ananta Bijoy Das to death in Bangladesh, the third such deadly attack by suspected Islamists since February.

Das had written a poem eulogising Nasreen, who left the Muslim-majority country after she was accused of blasphemy over her novel “Lajja” (Shame), which depicts the persecution of a Hindu family.

Bangladesh is an officially secular country but more than 90 per cent of its 160 million population are Muslims. The country has seen a rise in attacks by religious extremists in recent years.

Since 2013 at least five bloggers have been attacked by Islamists after a hardline group, Hefazat-e-Islam, publicly sought the execution of atheists who organised mass protests against the rise of political Islam.

After leaving Bangladesh, Nasreen spent a decade in Europe and the United States before India granted her a temporary residential permit in 2004.

The gynaecologist-turned-author holds Swedish citizenship but she has long been seeking permanent residence in India, which she describes as her “cultural home”.