Thursday, June 15, 2006

Muslims want Bangladeshi author deported for criticizing Islam


Muslims in West Bengal urged the government on Thursday to deport a controversial Bangladeshi author, saying she had hurt communal harmony with her anti-Islamic remarks at a recent public meeting.

Speaking at a seminar titled "Irrelevance of religion in the era of technology" on Saturday, Taslima Nasreen -- known for her controversial views -- told a packed hall in Kolkata that she used to abuse Allah as a child and that the Koran "contains contradictions".

Angered by her speech, Muslim leaders have written to the government demanding her immediate deportation and plan to hold protests against her.

"Communal harmony is in danger and she must be asked to leave if she has problems with Muslims," Hasan Ahmed Imran, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Bengal, told Reuters.

The 43-year-old author fled her home country in 1994 after hardline Muslims called for her death following her most controversial book, "Lajja", which was banned for blasphemy and suggesting free sex.

Nasreen has since lived in the United States and Europe, before settling in West Bengal, home to 25 million Muslims. She has applied for Indian citizenship, which Muslim leaders say must not be granted.

Muslim groups said they were incensed by Nasreen's remarks, which they felt had gone well beyond what is considered freedom of speech.

"As a eight-year-old child, I was warned by my mother that if I abused Allah I would be punished, but I did that and nothing happened to me," said Nasreen, as Muslims in the audience walked out of the hall.

Muslim leaders say they have filed a police complaint against Nasreen urging action against her for attempting to disturb peace and inciting communal tensions.

In January 2004, Nasreen was given police protection after an Indian Muslim cleric offered a reward of 20,000 rupees to anyone who blackened her face or garlanded her with shoes, traditionally seen as an insult in south Asia.

Bangladesh bans third Taslima book


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