Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide

Paperback | October 6, 2011

byPaul Marshall, Nina Shea

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The fatwa against Salman Rushdie and the 2005 Danish cartoon fracas awakened many people to the potency of blasphemy accusations in the Muslim world. Accusations and charges such as "blasphemy," "apostasy," "insulting Islam," or "hurting Muslims' religious feelings" pose a far greater dangerthan censorship of irreverent caricatures of Mohammad: they are increasingly used as key tools by authoritarian governments and extremist forces in the Muslim world to acquire and consolidate power. These charges, which draw on disputed interpretations of Islamic law and carry a traditionalpunishment of death, have proved effective in crushing or intimidating not only converts and heterodox groups, but also political and religious reformers. In fact, one reason for the recent growth of more repressive forms of Islam is their use of accusations of blasphemy, apostasy, and relatedcharges to intimidate and silence their religious opponents and make any criticism of their own actions and ideas religiously suspect. The effect of such laws thus goes far beyond what might narrowly be called religious matters. This volume provides the first world survey of the range and effects of apostasy and blasphemy accusations in the contemporary Muslim world, in international organizations, and in the West. The authors argue that we need to understand the context, history, impact, and mechanics of the blasphemyphenomenon in modern Muslim societies and guidance on how to effectively respond. The book covers the persecution of Muslims who convert to another religion or decide that they have become agnostic or atheists, as well as "heretics:" those who are accused of claiming a prophet after Mohammed, suchas Baha'is and Ahmadis. It also documents the political effects in Muslim societies of blasphemy and apostasy laws, as well as non-governmental fatwas and vigilante violence. It describes the cases of hundreds of victims, including political dissidents, religious reformers, journalists, writers,artists, movie makers, and religious minorities throughout the Muslim world. Finally, it addresses the legal evolution toward new blasphemy laws in the West; the increasing use of laws on "toleration" in the West, which may become surrogate blasphemy laws; increasing pressure by Muslim governmentsto make Western countries and international organizations enforce laws to restrict speech; and the increasing use of violence to stifle expression in the West even in the absence of law. Its foreword is by Indonesia's late President Abdurrahman Wahid.

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The fatwa against Salman Rushdie and the 2005 Danish cartoon fracas awakened many people to the potency of blasphemy accusations in the Muslim world. Accusations and charges such as "blasphemy," "apostasy," "insulting Islam," or "hurting Muslims' religious feelings" pose a far greater dangerthan censorship of irreverent caricatures of ...

Paul Marshall is Senior Fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute. Nina Shea is Director of the Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:544 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:October 6, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199812284

ISBN - 13:9780199812288

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Table of Contents

Part I1. IntroductionPart II: Muslim Majority CountriesIntroduction to Muslim Majority Countries2. Saudi Arabia3. Iran4. Egypt5. Pakistan6. Afghanistan7. The Greater Middle East8. Africa9. South and South East AsiaPart III: The Globalization of BlasphemyIntroduction to Western Countries and International Blasphemy10. Islam and Blasphemy on the International Stage 1989-200911. Legitimizing Repression: Blasphemy Restrictions in the United Nations12. Religiously Incorrect: Islam, Blasphemy, and Hate Speech In Western Domestic Law13. Enforcement by Violence and IntimidationPart IV: Muslim Criticism of Apostasy and Blasphemy LawsIntroduction to Muslim Voices14. Renewing Qur'anic Studies in the Contemporary World, by Nasr Hamid Abu-Zayd15. Rethinking Classical Muslim Law of Apostasy and the Death Penalty, by Abdullah SaeedPart V: Conclusions16. Conclusions