11/23/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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Taslima Nasreen, the anti-veil author, once again seeks refuge

by Nirmala Carvalho
After violent clashes in Calcutta, the activist and author against Muslim fundamentalism had sought refuge in from where she has been forced to flee. Bengal’s communist party wants her exiled.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - For “urgent security reasons” the Bengalese writer Taslima Nasreen – who has long opposed the repression of Muslim women – was forced to leave Calcutta this morning where she ahs lived in exile since 2004, for Jaipur.  From there under police escort she is travelling to New Delhi.  The feminist scholar, who has received death threats from Islamic fundamentalists, was at the centre of violent clashes which broke out November 21 last in the Indian state of West Bengal.  A group of Muslim demonstrators started up protests which turned violent.  The were protesting the requisition of agricultural lands for the Nandigram industrial site and demanding the cancellation of Nasreen’s Indian visa which expires in March. 

Biman Bose, leader of the ruling Communist party yesterday said that “her presence creates problems: the city would be safer without her”.  A declaration which has “shocked” the activist, who has chosen to remain silent on the issue “but will clarify her position regarding these events at the opportune time”. 

Under the protection of a police escort provided by the Indian government, the “anti-veil” author left her home yesterday afternoon covered by a burka and was accompanied to an Indian Airlines plane awaiting her in Jaipur, capital of Rajiasthan. She spent the night in a hotel surrounded by bodyguards and currently is on her way to New Delhi.  It is still unclear why she is being moved once again. 

The author has been a key target for fundamentalists for quite some time now.  Last August she was attacked by a mob of protesters as she left the Bangalore press club after having launched her latest book, Shodh (Vendetta) written in the local dialect.  Following an editorial in a weekly magazine supporting women’s rights, an Indian  Muslim group put a bounty on her head of 500 thousand rupees. 

46 year-old Nasreen, who holds a degree in medicine, abandoned her native country during the ‘90’s following a fatwa against her book “Shame” (in Bengalese "Lajja") and sought refuge in Europe.  Her books are banned in Bangladesh. For the last three years she has enjoyed the hospitality and protection of India and had established herself in Calcutta.  She has also applied for Indian citizenship. 

Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George, national president of the Bangalore based advocacy group Global Council of Indian Christians said: “The climate of intolerance is spiralling here in India,.  Fundamentalism has become one of the great cultural and political forces in the country today”.

 

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