KOLKATA, 19 August 2007 — Security was stepped up for the exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen yesterday after the controversial author was issued with a death threat, police said.
The move came after Muslim cleric Majidulla Khan Farhad on Friday accused Nasreen of “defaming” Islam and announced an “unlimited financial reward” to anybody who would kill her, according to the Press Trust of India.
“Police in plainclothes have been posted in and around Taslima’s flat in the wake of the threats of Muslim clerics after Friday prayers at a city mosque,” city Deputy Police Commissioner Gyanwant Singh told AFP.
The death threats against the author came just over a week after Nasreen was physically attacked by Muslims in Hyderabad during the launch of a translation of one of her novels.
Other clerics in Kolkata backed the call of Farhad, who is from the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, and accused the author of insulting the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in her writings.
“Muslims in the country will not tolerate an insult to the Prophet,” said Syed Nuroor Rehman Barkati, cleric of the Tipu Sultan Mosque in the city.
“Taslima is fanning communal passions in India by her writings. We will hold protests if she does not leave the country within a month,” Barkati told AFP.
“Our fatwa (religious edict) against her is a death threat. We have given her a month’s time to avoid it,” he said.
However, yesterday, the Home Ministry extended Nasreen’s visa for another six months.
Nasreen remained confined to her home yesterday.
Though she was “shocked” by the attack on her by the Muslim group in Hyderabad, Nasreen has said she has no intention of leaving India, which she described as her “second home” and “a good place to live in.” She has said she would like now to become an Indian citizen.
The author was forced to flee her homeland in 1994 after Muslims decried her writings as blasphemous and demanded her execution.
Nasreen has incensed conservative Muslims for writing a novel “Lajja” or “Shame” depicting the life of a Hindu family facing the ire of Muslims in Bangladesh. The book is banned in Bangladesh.
Nasreen, who is also a doctor, has also lived in self-exile in Europe and the United States but has lately been living in India. It was the second death threat against the author in just a few months.
In March All India Ibtehad Council, a splinter group of the influential All India Muslim Personal Law Board, offered a 500,000-rupee ($12,000) bounty for the “extermination” of the “notorious woman.”