06/04/2008, 00.00
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Taslima Nasreen finds refuge in Sweden

The popular Bangladeshi writer and human rights activist, who has received death threats from Islamic fundamentalists, will live in Uppsala. She will receive a monthly allowance from the local chapter of PEN, the worldwide association of writers.

Stockholm (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Taslima Nasreen, the popular Bangladeshi writer, found refuge in Uppsala, a city 70 kilometres north of the Swedish capital of Stockholm. Victim of death threats from Islamic fundamentalists for her battles in favour of human rights, she has had to change home several times to escape her persecutors.

“Taslima Nasreen has been offered a safe haven in town," spokeswoman for the Swedish chapter of the PEN Club (the worldwide association of writers) Maria Modig said. For the next two years she will also get an apartment and a monthly allowance of about € 500.

In November of last year Taslima Nasreen had to leave Kolkata, living for a few months under protection in a secret location in New Delhi, before travelling to Sweden in March.

The Bangladeshi writer had to leave her own country in 1994 following charges of blasphemy against her by some Islamic extremists for the content of her famous novel Lajja (Shame) which is set in Bangladesh and tells the story of a Hindu family persecuted by fundamentalists. In 2002 she was sentenced to a year in prison by judges in her country.

Taslima Nasreen has expressed several times a desire to return to India, where she has applied for a permanent residence permit, but Indian authorities have been willing only to grant her renewable six-month visas, fearing possible hostile reactions among India’s 140 million Muslims.

The writer was awarded the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for women's freedom by French State Secretary in charge of Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Rama Yade in Paris on 21 May.

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