02/15/2008, 00.00
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New Delhi extends visa for anti-veil writer Nasreen

A six month extension is granted. However restrictions on movement and expression remain. The writer promises self-censorship, as the government bans her books from western Bengal.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – India’s government has extended Bengalese writer Taslima Nasreen’s visa for 6 months.  The author is the target of Islamic fundamentalists because of the contents of her books, which are considered “blasphemous”.  In order to gain this concession, however Nasreen was forced to promise to eliminate certain “controversial” sentences from her next book.


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.  

The author is being held in safe housing in New Dehli, having been forced to leave her home in Calcutta November last after receiving death threats.  The government has banned her books from the state of Western Bengal, where over a quarter of the population is Muslim.


Commenting on the decision, Nasreen says: “I am happy to have been granted a new visa, but the curbs on freedom of my movement and expression remain”. In conclusion, she also underlined that she “will return to Calcutta soon”.


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