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Bangladesh Author’s Trial Delayed By Judge Prosecution Fails To Produce Documents Authorizing Case

Sun., April 16, 1995

Taslima Nasrin’s trial for allegedly blaspheming Islam was postponed Saturday when a judge agreed that there was no proper government sanction to go ahead with the case.

Abul Kashem Mohammad Kamaluddin, a chief magistrate in Dhaka, adjourned the trial until May 17 when the prosecution failed to produce documents authorizing her trial.

“A junior official who gave the approval for the trial was not authorized to do so,” said Kamal Hussain, Nasrin’s attorney.

Hussain also asked the court to drop the blasphemy charge against Nasrin, which is based on comments she allegedly made to an Indian newspaper.

Muslim radicals were outraged when it was reported she suggested revisions in the Koran, the Muslim holy book, to give more rights to women. Nasrin says she called for changes in Islamic laws, not the Koran.

“A newspaper report can’t be the basis of trying an eminent author. She has denied having ever made that suggestion and the government has failed to verify the facts of the case,” Hussain said.

In her writings, Nasrin has condemned Islamic fundamentalism and the oppression of women. Her 1993 novel, “Shame,” was banned in Bangladesh.

Since August, she has lived in Sweden, fearing death threats from fundamentalists who have offered $5,000 to anyone who kills her.

Bangladesh has no laws against blasphemy but a 100-year-old law says anyone who hurts a community’s religious sentiments can be jailed for up to two years.

Nasrin spent two months in hiding after the government ordered her arrest last year. She fled the country after she was released on bail.

She need not be present for the trial, which may last several months.


 

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