Adult/High School—This balanced, concise book is an excellent resource for social studies or debate class. Siddiqui explores the current political, religious, and secular aspects of being a member of the world's fastest-growing religion. He challenges Western assumptions about Islam and assigns blame to both the West and Islamic fundamentalists for fanning the flames of Islamophobia. Although he tackles stereotypes, the author is not a Muslim apologist-he describes the tenets of the religion in objective, non-proselytizing prose, acknowledging the need for reforms while explaining that most oppression of women results from traditional cultural practices rather than Islamic teachings. Siddiqui acknowledges the desperate living conditions many Muslims endure in the developing world, emphasizing the need to address these circumstances instead of offering them as a valid excuse for violence. He describes what post-9/11 life has been like for Muslims in the United States, in Europe, and in Muslim countries. Sidebars illustrate Islamic contributions to popular culture (e.g., Muslim stand-up comics and hip-hop artists), and the index, notes, bibliography, and illustrative charts are all useful. The author's tone is conversational and engaging, and frequent breaks in the text make this small book very readable.—Sondra VanderPloeg, Tracy Memorial Library, New London, NH
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*Starred Review* In the wake of 9/11, "Islam-bashing" bears all the symptoms of racism as it holds up the relatively few fanatics as representative of all 1.3 billion Muslims. That's the argument of award-winning Canadian journalist Siddiqui, past president of PEN Canada, a writers' group that is a leading advocate of free speech. His clear, passionate discussion confronts international issues that are in the news now, including recent controversies over cartoon representations of Prophet Muhammad, the debate surrounding the wearing of the hijab (traditional headscarf), and issues of faith and feminism, suicide bombing, and more. While clearly concerned about terrorism and other dangers, Siddiqui attacks the propaganda of collective guilt. Without preaching or political jargon and drawing on his travels and interviews in Muslim countries, he shows that the extremists are being challenged by a new generation of Muslims, and welcomes the current internal reformation. He also asks penetrating questions: for example, Why does the U.S. turn a blind eye to suffocating restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia? Including documented chapter notes and an "Essential Reading" list, this timely volume in the Groundwork Guide series is sure to spark debate. Like Jane Springer's Genocide (2006), also part of the series, this is excellent for classroom discussion. Hazel Rochman
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