Book with accounts of artists’ resistance to religious extremism

Book cover

Karima Bennoune: ‘Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism’. 416 pages. Published by W. W. Norton & Company on 26 August 2013.

Here is a book which describes a largely invisible global community of writers, artists, doctors, musicians, museum curators, lawyers, activists, and educators of Muslim heritage around the world who often risk death to combat the rising tide of fundamentalism within their own countries.

‘Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here’ is written by Karima Bennoune, a law professor at the UC Davis School of Law in the U.S. and a veteran of twenty years of human rights research and activism. In her book, she draws on extensive fieldwork and interviews to illuminate the inspiring stories of those who represent one of the best hopes for ending fundamentalist oppression worldwide.

“If we bow down to the Islamists, then everything is going to be rolled back and they will always have their way, and then there will be nothing. We’ll just be sitting in a dark corner.”
Faizan Peerzada, organizer of the World Performing Arts Festival in Lahore, Pakistan

“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’

Battle with creativity against guns and bloodlust
“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.’ ”
Excerpt from Colleen Mondor’s review of the book in the magazine Booklist which has 30,000 institutional and personal subscribers.

“At least eight thousand people have died across Pakistan in fundamentalist terrorism, mostly at the hands of the Pakistani Taliban, in the previous three years. This violence hits Lahore hard: there were forty-four terror attacks here alone in 2010. The last World Performing Arts Festival the Peerzadas held in Lahore’s Muamar Gaddafy Stadium was bombed, producing rain of glass.”
Excerpt of Karima Bennoune’s report from Lahore, Pakistan

The book can be purchased on

The magazine Salon published an excerpt from ‘Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here’:

Salon – 31 August 2013:
“Your fatwa does not apply here”: Muslim artists battle fundamentalism
Muslim playwrights, musicians and artists are battling for free expression — and some pay with their lives. By Karima Bennoune

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