A week after Muslim fundamentalists assaulted Taslima Nasreen in Hyderabad, some Muslim leaders here revived an old fatwa against her, telling her to leave the country and offering an unlimited amount of money to anybody who would kill her.
SM Noorur Rehman Barkati, Shahi Imam of the Tipu Sultan mosque, and leaders of the Majlish Banchao Tanjim (MBT) made the announcement during Friday prayers. “If she does not leave within a month, she will face dire consequences. We have also asked the government not to renew her visa and deport her,” MBT spokesperson Majid Ullah Khan said. The MBT is a breakaway group of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, which had attacked the author in Hyderabad.
Imam Barkati pointed out that the fatwa was an extension of the one issued in 1993 after the release of Lajja. But unlike the current fatwa, the earlier one promised had Rs. 1 lakh to anyone who would assault or kill the author.
“Taslima has spoken against Islam and Prophet Muhammad and we will go to any extent to eliminate her,” Khan said. He added that the MBT would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to demand Taslima’s ouster.
Taslima, on her part, refused to be cowed down. “I am here with the permission of the Indian government and will stay here till the government wants me to leave. I will not leave because some people are threatening me,” she said. She added that such a fatwa was illegal and the announcers should be arrested. “This kind of statement about unlimited rewards do scare me because anyone with greed might try to harm me,” she admitted.
Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb refused to comment on any increase in Taslima’s security, Police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee said: “We are keeping tabs on all developments. As far as security is concerned, adequate steps have been taken.”