Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide
What is the effect of blasphemy and apostasy laws on basic religious and political freedoms of Muslim-majority countries? What happens when Western governments and bodies like the United Nations begin passing similarly motivated restrictions on speech? These and other questions were addressed by Paul Marshall and Nina Shea as they discussed their new book, Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide. Looking at the experience of hundreds of victims, from political dissidents to journalists to artists and religious reformers, the authors examined the political effects of such laws, as well as non-governmental fatwas and vigilante intimidation, on Muslim societies. The event included a response by John Voll, Professor of Islamic history and associate director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.
Paul Marshall is a Senior Fellow of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute. Among the world’s leading scholars of religious freedom, Paul Marshall played a pivotal role in directing the world’s attention to the modern crisis of Christian persecution. Marshall is the author and editor of more than twenty books on religion and politics, especially religious freedom, including more recently, Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians (2013), Silenced: How Apostasy Laws and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide (2011), Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion (2009), Religious Freedom in the World (2008), and Radical Islam's Rules: The Worldwide Spread of Extreme Sharia Law (2005). For Georgetown’s “Christianity and Freedom” initiative, Marshall wrote an essay on Who Persecutes Christians—and Why?, in which he analyzes the predominant causes and patterns underlying global anti-Christian persecution.
Nina Shea is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, where she directs the Center for Religious Freedom, a Commissioner on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and an international human-rights lawyer. For over a decade, she has worked for the advancement of individual religious freedom in US foreign policy. She helped organize and lead a coalition of churches and religious groups that worked to end a religious war against non-Muslims and dissident Muslims in southern Sudan; in 2004 and 2005, she advised in the drafting of the religious freedom provisions in Iraq’s constitution; and, she authored and edited two reports, Saudi Arabia’s Curriculum of Intolerance (2006), and Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques (2005), both of which translated and analyzed Saudi governmental publications that teach hatred and violence against the religious “other.” She regularly presents testimony before Congress, delivers public lectures, organizes briefings and conferences, and writes frequently on religious freedom issues. She is the author of In the Lion’s Den, which documents worldwide Christian persecution. She is a graduate of Smith College, and American University’s Washington College of Law. In February 2008, she participated in the Berkley Center’s “Why Religious Freedom? The Origins and Promise of U.S. International Religious Freedom Policy” symposia.
John Voll is Professor of Islamic History and Associate Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University. From 1965-1995 Voll taught and researched at the University of New Hampshire. He...