Exile like a slow death: Taslima

NEW DELHI: Bangladeshi feminist writer Taslima Nasreen, who fled her country 16 years ago because of threats from Muslim extremists, said today that her life in exile was like a “slow death”.

Nasreen, who lives in the United States, was on a brief trip to New Delhi to renew her Indian residential permit. “I am not keeping well,” the 47-year-old told AFP. “Sometimes it seems I am facing a slow death, standing at a bus stop to shuttle between Paris and New York, London and Washington,” she said. Nasreen was forced to flee Bangladesh in 1994 after radical Muslims accused her of blasphemy over her novel Lajja, in which a Hindu family is persecuted by Muslims.

She spent the next 10 years in western Europe and the United States before India granted her a temporary residential permit in 2004. She moved to Kolkata in the state of West Bengal, adjoining Bangladesh. But seething resentment by Muslim hardliners at her presence in the city exploded into full-blown riots in November 2007, which resulted in the army being called out.

She went into hiding in New Delhi and was eventually forced to leave India in March 2008. While she has been allowed back to renew her visa, her requests for a permanent resident’s visa or Indian citizenship have been rejected.

“I have many friends and well-wishers in Europe and the United States, but I really want to stay in Kolkata which is close to my heart,” Nasreen said.

“I am a writer. I want to concentrate

on my writing.”