Taslima Nasrin (also Taslima Nasreen, born 25 August 1962) is a Bangladeshi author and former physician who has been living in exile since 1994. From a literary profile as a poet in the late 1970s, she rose to global attention by the beginning of 1990s owing to her essays and novels with feminist views and criticism of all "misogynistic" religions including Islam.After living more than a decade in Europe and the USA, Taslima moved to India in 2005, but she was banished from India in 2008.She advocates freedom of thought and human rights by publishing, lecturing, and campaigning. She has been unable to return either to her home in Bangladesh or to her adopted home of West Bengal, India .She received numerous awards for her work.
Nasrin was born to Dr. Rajab Ali and Edul Ara in the town of Mymensingh. Her father was a renowned physician, and a professor of Medical Jurisprudence in Mymensingh Medical College, also at Sir Salimullah Medical College, Dhaka and Dhaka Medical College. Taslima studied medicine and became a physician.
Early in her literary career, she wrote mainly poetry, and published half a dozen collections of poetry between 1982 and 1993, often with female oppression as a theme, and often containing very graphic language. She started publishing prose in the early 1990s, and produced three collections of essays and four novels before the publication of her 1993 novel Lajja (Bengali: লজ্জা Lôjja), or Shame, in which a Hindu family is fighting against Muslims. This publication changed her life and career dramatically.
Nasrin suffered a number of physical and other attacks following the publication of Lajja. She had written against Islamic philosophy, angering many Muslims of Bangladesh, who called for a ban on her novel. In October 1993, a radical fundamentalist group called the Council of Islamic Soldiers offered a bounty for her death. In May 1994 she was interviewed by the Kolkata edition of The Statesman, which quoted her as calling for a revision of the Quran; she claims she only called for abolition of the Sharia, the Islamic religious law. In August 1994 she was brought up on "charges of making inflammatory statements," and faced criticism from Islamic fundamentalists. A few hundred thousand demonstrators called her "an apostate appointed by imperial forces to vilify Islam"; a member of a "militant faction threatened to set loose thousands of poisonous snakes in the capital unless she was executed." After spending two months in hiding, at the end of 1994 she escaped to Sweden, consequently ceasing her medical practice and becoming a full-time writer and activist.
A strong critic of fundamentalist Islam, the 52-year-old feminist writer was forced to leave Bangladesh in 1994 after receiving death threats from radical Muslim groups who condemned a number of her writings as blasphemous.
Her Bangladeshi passport was revoked soon afterwards - a move Ms Nasreen has always considered the highest affront and a denial of her rights.
She came to India initially but left for Sweden in 2008 after further protests. She has since returned to India and over the years though some local Muslim groups have protested against her presence in the country, she lives in the capital, Delhi.
And though Bangladesh has remained unwavering on the issue of her citizenship, she is adamant on returning home.
"I visit Bangladesh's embassies and high commissions all over the world frequently to try to renew my passport and return empty handed. No reason is supplied why my application is refused. Some of the embassy staff are even sympathetic to me, but they can't go against the government diktat," she stated.
It makes no difference who the government of the day in Dhaka is - whether it's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League, opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party's Khaleda Zia or a caretaker government - they are all united on the issue of barring Ms Nasreen from entering the country.
"My fight will continue. I won't give up that easily," says Ms Nasreen to a BBC correspondent, resolute, sitting in her Delhi apartment which she was able to inhabit only after a long tussle with the Indian government over her visa.
Having lived in France, the US and Sweden (the country which granted her nationality after her Bangladeshi passport was revoked) over the last two decades, the writer adopted the city of Calcutta in West Bengal state as her home for a brief period.
But after protests by Muslim groups against her presence there, she was forced to move out of the city in 2008.
With wall-to-wall bookshelves her fifth-floor apartment in leafy south Delhi seems like a writers' den; only the armed sentry at the door appears out of place.
Ms Nasreen leads a busy life - in addition to all the reading and writing, she's a strong online presence on Twitter and has to take care of her cat Minu. But, in spite of all this, she still finds time to knock on the door of the Bangladesh high commission at regular intervals.
Ms Nasreen has not considered diluting her stance - "it's ridiculous", she argues, that to please a tiny section of the population, her citizenship of her homeland is perpetually rejected.
"I have shaken the society with my anger. I'm nothing without the anger, so no compromise on that," she asserts.
The author has asked India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government to take up her case with Bangladesh.
After 20 years, Ms Nasreen understands that she is not officially a citizen of the country that she calls home. It may even be said that she understands why. But that is not to say that she is resigned.
- Oporpokkho (The Opponent), 1992.
- Shodh, 1992. ISBN 978-81-88575-05-3. Trans. in English as Getting Even.
- Nimontron (Invitation), 1993.
- Phera (Return), 1993.
- Lajja, 1993. ISBN 978-0-14-024051-1. Trans. in English as Shame.
- Bhromor Koio Gia (Tell Him The Secret), 1994.
- Forashi Premik (French Lover), 2002.
- Brahmaputrer pare (At the bank of Brahmaputra river) 2013
- Beshorom (Shameless), 2019