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Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalismby Karima Bennoune
Synopses & Reviews
Journalists, theater directors, doctors, musicians, museum curators, lawyers, comics, street vendors, educators, and women’s rights activists — these are some of the people Karima Bennoune interviewed in her three-year investigation of grassroots opposition to the rising tide of fundamentalism in Muslim populations from Lahore, Pakistan, to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her subjects’ own religious views range from the wholly secular to the deeply devout, yet all bear painful witness to the brutal effects of fundamentalist violence and oppression.
True defenders of freedom, they struggle to foster creativity, compassion, discussion, and diversity even sometimes in the face of death threats (and more than threats) from armed religious militants. Yet, some of these vibrant, engaging, and heroic people also suffer from the consequences of counterterrorism. Abroad, they are abandoned, as the political right resorts to anti-Muslim prejudice while the left defends Muslim fundamentalism as an authentic expression of cultural tradition, even as a “democratic” force.
"A powerful and captivating tribute to those brave women and men who have stood up to fundamentalist violence in their own countries from Afghanistan to Mali, this book will hopefully inspire a new and improved international human rights response." Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
"This work redefines courage in a humbling dimension. Bennoune’s meticulous testament serves as a warning to the complacent and rebukes ‘politically correct’ posturing that makes excuses for the inexcusable and canvasses tolerance for the intolerable." Wole Soyinka, winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature
"Courageous and passionate, illuminating the confiscated lives of secularists, religious minorities, and Muslims alike. Yet what is striking is not their victimhood but their resilience and resistance—that is where hope lies." Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran
"For too long, these types of voices, those Muslims who stand for individual freedom, debate, creativity, and compassion, have been ignored. But if we are ever to defeat the extremists, the counter narratives they provide to the distorted version of Islam need to be heard loud and clear." Ali Soufan, author of The Black Banners
Impassioned, eye-opening accounts of heroic resistance to religious extremism.
In Lahore, Pakistan, Faizan Peerzada resisted being relegated to a “dark corner” by staging a performing arts festival despite bomb attacks. In Senegal, wheelchair-bound Aïssatou Cissé produced a comic book to illustrate the injustices faced by disabled women and girls. In Algeria, publisher Omar Belhouchet and his journalists struggled to put out their paper, El Watan (The Nation), the same night that a 1996 jihadist bombing devastated their offices and killed eighteen of their colleagues. In Afghanistan, Young Women for Change took to the streets of Kabul to denounce sexual harassment, undeterred by threats. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Abdirizak Bihi organized a Ramadan basketball tournament among Somali refugees to counter the influence of Al Shabaab. From Karachi to Tunis, Kabul to Tehran, across the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and beyond, these trailblazers often risked death to combat the rising tide of fundamentalism within their own countries.
But this global community of writers, artists, doctors, musicians, museum curators, lawyers, activists, and educators of Muslim heritage remains largely invisible, lost amid the heated coverage of Islamist terror attacks on one side and abuses perpetrated against suspected terrorists on the other.
A veteran of twenty years of human rights research and activism, Karima Bennoune draws on extensive fieldwork and interviews to illuminate the inspiring stories of those who represent one of the best hopes for ending fundamentalist oppression worldwide.
About the Author
A veteran of twenty years of human rights research and activism, Karima Bennoune is a professor of law at the University of California–Davis School of Law. She grew up in Algeria and the United States, and now lives in northern California.
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