Taslima Nasreen, whose book launch was stormed in Hyderabad, India, said she feared for her life as she took shelter in a backroom as pressmen and organisers tried to fend off the fanatics.
“I have been attacked before,” said Taslima, “but it was never like yesterday. There were no police to help because the organisers had not foreseen anything of this kind. If I have returned alive to Kolkata it is because of media persons who fought those men for half an hour and got injured to save me. I was wondering how they would kill me. Would it be with a knife or a gun. Or would they simply beat me to death. They had encircled us. After I escaped from a back door and took shelter in a room, they even broke down one of the doors. I thought I was dead,” said the 45-year-old writer.
According to reports, around a hundred members of the Majlis Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (MIM) invaded the Hyderabad Press Club, where Taslima was releasing the Telegu translation of her book Shodh, (Getting Even) and threw chairs and other objects, overturned tables and chanted slogans against her. MIM activists were led by three state legislative politicians.
Organisers tried to push back the protestors and during the melee, Taslima was slapped. MIM leader Akhtar Khan, an MLA, said: “She is enemy of Islam, she is a black spot on Muslims. We cannot bear anyone talking against Islam. She has written books against Islam. We will not tolerate her in Hyderabad.”
Taslima was eventually rescued by the police and journalists present at the press club and was escorted to the airport. Three Islamists have been detained by the police for questioning.
Taslima has been living in exile for the last twelve years after death threats forced her to flee Bangladesh. She is an outspoken champion of equal rights for women and a fearless fighter against religion. Taslima has faced numerous death threats from Islamic radicals. Recently, in March 2007, an Indian Muslim group offered a bounty of 500,000 rupees for her beheading.
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