Anita Joshua

NEW DELHI: Authors and civil rights activists have come out in defence of Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, who is under fire from critics for airing her views on the burqa in the Outlook magazine.

In a letter, they said, "Instead of taking her on intellectually, her detractors are using a reprehensible way of suppressing her opinions." The signatories also made out a case for granting her asylum in India.

Referring to the demonstrations outside her apartment in Kolkata and demands for her deportation, the authors and activists said it was evidently a way to force the author to retract her views since her resident permit was up for review. Ms. Nasreen's Indian visa has since been renewed for another six months.

The Bangladeshi author was forced to leave her country in 1994 after fundamentalists issued death threats in reaction to her book Lajja. Ms. Nasreen, who has since lived in Sweden, Germany and France, has sought Indian citizenship.

The signatories include Khushwant Singh, Arundhati Roy, Leila Seth, Kuldip Nayyar, Vijay Tendulkar, Aruna Roy, Shyam Benegal, Girish Karnad and Saeed Naqvi.