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#Exile: Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen moved to the US after death threats

Outspoken Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen has been relocated to the United States from India after death threats by Islamists from her country.

A US advocacy group which works closely with Ms Nasreen said that danger to her life has been markedly increased since the brutal killings of three secular bloggers in Bangladesh since February this year.

“Islamic radicals reportedly linked to al-Qaeda, the same violent extremists who claimed responsibility for the recent murders of freethought writers Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, and Ananta Bijoy Das, have been threatening the life of Taslima Nasreen,” the New York-based Center for Inquiry (CFI) said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Because of the very real danger to her life, Taslima has decided to leave India.

“For the indefinite future, to preserve her life, she will need to stay in the United States— where she currently has no job or home,” the statement adds.

Ms Nasreen, 52, currently holds Swedish citizenship and had lived in India on temporary visas since 2004.

She is believed to have arrived in the US last week.

CFI have also appealed for public donations to support Ms Nasreen’s stay in the United States.

“Taslima is a truly international role model, as her work and her courage inspire people of all ages to question tradition, challenge dogma, and fight for human rights,” said Ronald A Lindsay, president and CEO of CFI.

“We could not stand by while her life was in danger, nor will we turn our backs on the other brave freethinkers in fear for their lives.  I know our community will make a strong show of solidarity and give generously to this emergency fund,” he added.

Ms Nasreen has lived in exile in Europe as well as the United States before. 

Born in 1962 to a Muslim family in the town of Mymensingh in what was then East Pakistan, Ms Nasreen studied medicine before discovering poetry and prose.   

Her work was shaped by her own childhood experience of sexual abuse and has long caused outrage in conservative Bangladesh – as well as parts of India – for its anger, secularism and sex.

She first fled into exile in 1994, slipping out of Bangladesh after she was charged with blasphemy for her views on the position of women in Islamic countries. 

But that wasn’t the only topic that moved her.

Her most famous novel, ‘Lajja’ (Shame), focused on government-backed discrimination and violence against her country’s Hindu minority community. 

Her four volumes of sexually explicit memoirs – still banned in Bangladesh – and outspoken newspaper articles have also fuelled her notoriety.

She is celebrated as a symbol of Free Speech and offered comfortable exile in countries around the world.

But she has always insisted that South Asia remains home.

“I want to live in Kolkata, I don’t want to live in Europe, I can’t write there,” she once said. “I write in Bengali and I need to be surrounded by the Bengali language and culture.”

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