Protests mar Taslima Nasreen book launch in Calcutta

Taslima Nasreen, Hyderabad, 2007 Taslima Nasreen fled her native Bangladesh in 1994 amid death threats

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Controversial author Taslima Nasreen has faced protests at the launch of her latest memoir, with an event at the Calcutta Book Fair cancelled.

Ms Nasreen is not at the event, and tweeted that her publisher was forced to launch the book outside the hall.

Ms Nasreen blamed "some religious fanatics" who opposed the launch.

She fled her native Bangladesh in 1994 after receiving death threats from Muslims. She went to India but left for Sweden in 2008 after further protests.

She has since returned to India.

The protest comes in the wake of an intensified debate over artistic free speech in India.

UK writer Sir Salman Rushdie recently had to abandon plans to attend a literary festival in Jaipur amid security concerns.

On Sunday an artist was assaulted in a gallery in Delhi, where he is exhibiting a number of nude paintings.

'Social progress'

Ms Nasreen was launching Nirbasan (Exile), the latest instalment of her memoirs that gives an account of her flight from Calcutta in 2007-08.

The Booksellers and Publishers Guild had planned a launch in the AC hall.

But Ms Nasreen tweeted: "Kolkata [Calcutta] Book Fair committee cancelled my book release program today at Kolkata Book Fair. Why? Some religious fanatics don't want it to happen."

She said the Calcutta police had asked the organisers to cancel the event amid security concerns.

In a later tweet, Ms Nasreen said: "The PBS publisher with friends have released my book under the open sky at Kolkata Book Fair. Book release in the AC hall was banned."

Ms Nasreen has written dozens of books of poetry, essays, novels and short stories in her native Bengali language, mostly in exile.

Her most controversial book, Lajja (Shame), was banned in Bangladesh and she fled after Muslim extremists called for her death.

The publisher of the latest instalment, Shibani Mukherji, told the Press Trust of India it was "determined to go ahead with more publications that will uphold values, love for truth and social progress".

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