The Magazine

Annals of Intolerance

The Islamist war on freedom of conscience.

Jul 2, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 40 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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The attempt to prevent non-Muslims from criticizing Islam or any aspect of its existence by Islamist intimidation is, as Marshall and Shea aver, new. They quote Bernard Lewis, stipulating, “[A]t no time, until very recently, did any Muslim authority ever suggest that Sharia law [including a ban on insulting Islam] should be enforced on non-Muslims in non-Muslim countries.”

Notwithstanding the title, this is not a bleak book, or a justification for pessimism. It includes many episodes of cruel oppression, but also presents many chapters of courageous resistance. It presents powerful evidence that religious freedom among Muslims has many more friends and defenders than Westerners might imagine, and that none of this frenzied onslaught need be a feature of Islam and its relationship with the rest of the world forever.

Stephen Schwartz is author of The Two Faces of Islam and The Other Islam.