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Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism Hardcover – August 26, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* After a harrowing experience with her father in his Algerian home, activist and law professor Bennoune felt compelled to interview Muslims who are bravely standing up to Islamist groups. Her geographic range is vast, including France, Egypt, Senegal, Russia, Mali, and beyond. She spoke with theater owners under threat of suicide bombers in Pakistan, museum curators who risked all to save Afghani cultural treasures, and television producers from Algeria who were nearly killed for presenting a popular program. Her interviews sear with passion as her subjects deconstruct false views of Islam and inaccurate readings of the Qur’an. Again and again, Bennoune shines a spotlight on those who battle with intelligence and creativity against guns and bloodlust. She has created a significant and compelling record of modern life in which she spares no one, from the right wing to the left. This is life on the front lines in a world that Westerners all too often willfully define with inaccurate generalities. Bennoune insists that readers see the hearts and souls of those who are fighting for their countries and hear Muslims who say, “If we bow down to the Islamists . . . then there will be nothing. We’ll just be sitting in a dark corner.” --Colleen Mondor

Review

“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)

“Bennoune, and those she profiles, bravely meets the tide of extremism with a sense of shared community and nonviolent purpose.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Starred review. Her interviews sear with passion as her subjects deconstruct false views of Islam and inaccurate readings of the Qur’an. Again and again, Bennoune shines a spotlight on those who battle with intelligence and creativity against guns and bloodlust. She has created a significant and compelling record of modern life in which she spares no one, from the right wing to the left.” (Booklist)

“A fascinating and often heartbreaking read… Bennoune’s writing is crisp and conversational, and she possesses a deft sense of how to clearly deconstruct the most ingrained American arguments about violence in the name of Islam.” (Lorraine Ali - Los Angeles Times)

“A compelling, meticulously researched account of the legions of Muslims whose struggles against fundamentalist violence are almost never reported in our media…. Required reading.” (Rachel Newcomb - Washington Post)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (August 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393081583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393081589
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As an avid reader of the Economist, on August 31, 2013, I came across a review for, "Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here" by Karima Bennoune, which piqued my interest. The reviewer for the Economist wrote, "Her reporting is diligent, passionate and convincing. With courage and empathy, she takes readers to hardscrabble streets where Islamist militias unleashed a wave of almost indiscriminate butchery. She meets a woman who lost her husband and then six of her nine children; a newspaper publisher who returned from a funeral to find his offices blown up but still puts out a paper the next day; a nurse who lies at home helplessly after being paralyzed by a rocket attack."

I bought Ms. Bennoune's book and was not disappointed. The stories were deeply moving and shined a light on a struggle that brave, everyday people from all walks of life are fighting in order to defeat the terror of violence that is the calling card of radical fundamentalism. The book is poetic, historical and deeply moving. I recommend putting "Your Fatwa Does Not Apply here" on your must read reading list.
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Format: Hardcover
This book addresses the charge that Muslims are doing nothing to end fundamentalist violence. The author, fluent in Arabic, French and English, interviewed nearly 300 people from almost 30 countries -- from Afghanistan to Mali -- and has compiled story after story of brave people resisting those who practice violence in the name of the Muslim faith.

These stories make it clear that what's happening in the Muslim world is a clash within civilizations, not between civilizations. These stories are about brave people living in (exiled in some cases) Muslim-majority societies that westerners can related to as being reasonable people.

Unfortunately, this book is also filled with stories of horrible atrocities of Muslim extremist killing other Muslims. According to a 2009 study, 98 percent of al-Qaeda's victims were Muslim between 2006 and 2008. Many of these were innocent apolitical victims of violence, and of course those featured in this book who openly resist are often targeted in particular.

So on the one hand this book carries an optimistic tone of a rallying cry of resistance against Islamic terrorism. But my impression of international news is that the trend seems to be headed in the wrong direction (as if write this, ISIS is in the news). Thus I come away from this book feeling discouraged, pessimistic and sad. At the same time I admire those who are brave enough to resist against what appears to be insurmountable odds.

Human rights groups and academics will be surprised to learn that this book includes them for criticism of their relativist stances. The author believes they are overly sympathetic to the notion that "Islamists represent ordinary people, and their opponents are simply elite.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
bennoune does a great job decribing what most of us in the west do not realize goes on as moderate muslims fight against the radical who get all the press attention due to their violent acts; a story that needs to be more widely understood; i have had fortune to visit many of the places she describes esp timbucto where i was able to go about a year before all the recent problems; remember being in a crowd of some thousands of locals being one of only five caucasians there; at worse we were ignored & at best treated very friendy; never felt threatened & i only saw one policeman the whole time who did not have a gun; it is inconievable what supposed religious muslims have done to that city that has so much muslim culture & history; some day the moderates have to overcome these fanatics who kill more of their own fellow muslims than they do the hated westerners; a very worthwhile read which i highly recomend
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Format: Hardcover
At first glance, Karima Bennoune's "Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism" might look, to the naïve reader, like the statement all America has been waiting for since September 11, 2001. Finally, a "moderate Muslim" speaks out against Muslim terrorism.

Bennoune grew up in Algeria and the US. She identifies with Muslim culture, though she is an agnostic. She condemns Al Qaeda unequivocally: "I hate Al Qaeda" (267). She condemns Muslims for "whitewashing" their message by saying one thing in English and another in Arabic (17). She despises "left-wingers who have been drinking a certain kind of multicultural Kool-Aid" who "tell us how great … Sharia really is or can be if you just reinterpret it a little" (19-20). She critiques CAIR (221). She sneers at Pakistani conspiracy theories that attribute Taliban atrocities to Americans, Hindus, and Jews (243). She insists that US drone attacks do not justify Taliban killings (247). She sniffs at invocations of Edward Said's concept of "orientalism" to muffle criticism of terrorism (249). She rejects the idea that Islamic supremacists should be invited to participate in national life on the basis of tolerance and diversity, since they reject tolerance and diversity, and their inclusion would result in "One man, one vote, one time" (294-5). "'Compromise with Political Islam is Impossible,'" she quotes, approvingly (341). She records in heart-wrenching detail the hideous, massive, and inexcusable suffering Muslim terror has wreaked on the lives of Muslims from North Africa to South Asia.

"Fatwa" is published by WW Norton, a respected academic and popular publisher.
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