Author Seeks Support for Safety
Oct. 03, 1998
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ Author Taslima Nasrin, who is facing death threats and arrest in Bangladesh for suggesting changes to Islamic law, appealed for international help Saturday.
Nasrin said she had asked the writers group PEN to contact the Bangladesh government and protect her against extremists who have offered $5,000 to anyone who kills her.
About 2,000 Islamic extremists wearing white prayer caps marched through the streets of the capital on Saturday, calling for Nasrin's death. Several Islamic groups are planning a bigger protest in Dhaka on Sunday.
``I need protection for my life,'' Nasrin, 36, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from her hide-out. ``The international community should come forward to ensure my safety.''
In 1994, the state filed charges against Nasrin for blaspheming Islam, and she went into hiding for two months to avoid death threats until a court granted her bail and allowed her to leave the country. Since then, she has lived in Europe and the United States, supported by PEN.
Nasrin returned home in September, saying she wanted to nurse her 60-year-old mother, who has colon cancer.
``I want my freedom back,'' Nasrin said. ``This is my country and I've every right to freely live here.''
The author denies that she insulted Islam but admits she suggested changes in Islamic laws to give more rights to women in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh. Her novel ``Lajja,'' or ``Shame,'' criticized Muslims for attacking the country's minority Hindus after Hindu zealots destroyed a mosque in neighboring India in 1992.