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'Death warrant' issued for author

August 18, 2007|From Reuters

KOLKATA, India -- Muslim clerics in eastern India issued a "death warrant" on Friday against controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin, threatening her life if she did not leave the country where she lives in exile.

The threat came after a meeting of dozens of clerics from prominent mosques in the eastern city of Kolkata -- where the writer lives -- who said she had invited their wrath through her "repeated criticism" of Islam in her books and speeches.

Although one prominent cleric said Nasrin had a month to leave, another said she had 15 days. Anyone who killed her would get a cash reward of 100,000 rupees ($2,400), they said.

"Anyone who executes the warrant will also be given additional rewards," said Nurur Rehman Barkati, a cleric.

The move by the clerics came a week after Nasrin was attacked by radical Muslims in the city of Hyderabad during the launch of a translation of one of her novels.

Nasrin said their illegal order destroyed India's secular image. "I have never hurt religious sentiments and strongly believe in freedom of speech," she said in an interview. "I am not afraid of death, but I am saddened by the turn of events."

Nasrin fled Bangladesh for the first time in 1994 when a court said she had "deliberately and maliciously" hurt Muslims' religious feelings with her Bengali-language novel "Lajja" ("Shame").

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