Controversial author offered refuge in Sweden

Under fire Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen has been offered a safe haven in the Swedish town of Uppsala.

Controversial author offered refuge in Sweden

Nasreen fled to Sweden in March following death threats from radical Indian Muslims and has now moved to the university town amid high security, newspaper Upsala Nya Tidning reports.

Officials in Uppsala have pledged to cover the 45-year-old author’s accommodation and living expenses for the next two years.

Nasreen is living alone and is in poor health having been hospitalized in March for emergency treatment.

Liberal Party member of parliament and Uppsala resident Cecilia Wikström has long had contact with Nasreen.

“I know Taslima Nasreen as a very unique individual. Maybe that’s what happens if you have a price on your head,” Wikström told Upsala Nya Tidning.

Wikström has successfully lobbied for her party to help make Uppsala a safe haven for writers.

The town’s governing council has now put the idea into action and has agreed to pay for a one bedroom apartment for the next two years. The writer will also receive a monthly allowance of 5,000 kronor ($800).

Nasreen was forced to flee Bangladesh in 1994 to live in exile, in Sweden among other countries, after radical Muslims accused her of blasphemy over her novel “Lajja” — or “Shame” — which depicts the life of a Hindu family persecuted by Muslims in Bangladesh.

She has lived in exile since then, in the United States and Europe, where she holds a Swedish passport.

The 45-year-old gynecologist-turned-author — whose predicament recalls that of Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie — had been seeking permanent residence in India before her move back to Europe.

But New Delhi had stalled the request, fearful of a backlash from the country’s 140-million-plus Muslims.

Nasreen was forced to flee the West Bengal state capital of Kolkata in November last year after receiving death threats from radical Indian Muslims and was living in hiding in New Delhi under Indian government security protection until March.

The writer said that months in isolation had sent her blood pressure soaring and affected her heart and eyesight.