Muhammad Sa˓id al-˓Ashmawy, former chief justice of the High Court of Cairo, has emerged since his retirement as one of Egypt's leading intellectual secularist voices and a leading opponent of the Islamist political trend. He has gained recognition throughout the Arabic-speaking world as a jurist, religious scholar, and intellectual who opposes extremist political activism in the name of Islam. He has become a leader among the many voices of intellectuals, jurists, and scholars who have confronted the politicizing of Islam, using it to justify violence as a political tool. His writings are not so much a direct response to the militants' ideology (because he finds much that is flawed in their thinking), but they are very much a response to the harm being done to Islam as a faith, for which he believes the militants to be responsible.
Unfortunately, we read and hear too little of this critical Muslim point of view in the Western media. Figures such as Dr. al-˓Ashmawy who have courageously made themselves available to the regional and international press tend to gain recognition after some attack is perpetrated against them or they have actually been assassinated, as was Egyptian journalist Farag Foda. The Islamist-inspired assault on the Nobel Laure-