Warrant issued for feminist author

A LOCAL court in Bangladesh has issued a second arrest warrant against Taslima Nasrin, the feminist author who has been in hiding for more than seven weeks after her life was threatened by Muslim fundamentalists.

The controversy over Ms Nasrin's criticisms of conservative, male-dominated Islamic society has proved a rallying-point for both sides in a wider political struggle. Trouble continued yesterday in Chittagong, the country's second city, where six people were killed on Tuesday in clashes between students and militants from Jamaat Islami, which has led the campaign against her. The same day a magistrate in northern Bangladesh ordered Ms Nasrin's arrest in a case filed by a local Muslim leader, claiming that a book of essays she published in 1992 was anti-Islamic.

A doctor turned writer, Ms Nasrin first became the target of fundamentalists with the publication of her novel, Lajja (Shame) last year. They were angered by her descriptions of the Muslim backlash against Bangladesh's Hindu minority in the wake of the destruction of the mosque at Ayodhya, including the rape of a Hindu woman. Demonstrators proclaimed that she should be killed, leading her to be seen outside the Muslim world as the female Salman Rushdie.

If Ms Nasrin enjoyed her notoriety, however, the affair became more serious after an Indian newspaper quoted her earlier this year as saying the Koran should be revised. She said she had been misquoted, and that she had been calling for the reform of Islamic sharia law, but the government came under pressure from outraged Muslim leaders. On 4 June, the day a Dhaka court issued an arrest warrant, she went into hiding.

The issue has stirred up divisions going back to Bangladesh's war of independence from Pakistan in 1971, when Jamaat Islami sided with the Pakistanis against Bengali nationalists. The movement has had to keep a low profile ever since, but is now using the Nasrin controversy to resume a political role. The Chittagong violence began when the Jamaat Islami leader, Golam Azam, who is accused of war crimes, made his first speech in the city for more than 20 years. Further demonstrations are due today.

Middle-class liberals fear that demands by fundamentalist groups for a blasphemy law are part of a campaign for a repressive Islamic state, which some claim would seek to reunite with Pakistan. Amnesty International yesterday criticised Pakistan for misusing blasphemy laws to persecute religious minorities. Most victims were members of the Ahmadiyya sect, but Christians had also suffered.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor