Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide

By Snyder, Ann | Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide


Snyder, Ann, Middle East Quarterly


Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide. By Paul Marshall and Nina Shea. New York: Oxford University Press, 201 1. 448 pp. $99 ($35, paper).

Marshall and Shea, both of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, have connected the dots between human rights violations in Islamic countries, as a result of rules against insulting Islam, and the dangerous consequences to individual liberties in the West as it increasingly adopts similar policies.

The authors undertake the Herculean task of surveying incidents of people being charged (formally and informally) with apostasy, blasphemy, or other forms of "insulting" Islam. Through the use of copious case reports (organized by region, country, and type of target), they paint a grim picture of the ways in which limits on "anti-Islamic" speech are used in Muslim-majority countries to persecute religious converts and minorities (including those within Islam), to silence religious and political reformers, and even to settle personal scores. They then explore efforts to export such restrictions to the West, covering a range of topics including the Danish Muhammad cartoon incident, so-called defamation of religion at the U. …

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