Just a generation back, who could have guessed that Christians would soon join Jews in publishing surveys about efforts to persecute them? And, even more unlikely, who could have predicted that Christians and Jews would both point to Muslims (and not Marxist-Leninists) as their most persistent nemesis? Two excellent and similar publications put out by parallel organizations represent these concerns: both the Rutherford Institute (an organization "dedicated to upholding and maintaining religious liberty") back cover and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith have an ecumenical outlook, but the former concentrates on problems facing Christians and the latter on those facing Jews.
The Rutherford Institute's Handbook looks at its stated concern in 43 countries, including 8 in the Middle East (Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan), a region it finds the most lacking in terms of religious rights. Two themes there recur with great regularity: the repression of non-Muslims, especially Christians, and the restrictions on Muslims intent to convert to another religion, especially Christianity. (1) While Saudi Arabia seems to be the world's worst violator of Christian rights, with churches illegal, repeated police raids on private prayer services, and execution awaiting at least some of those engaged in missionary work, every Muslim-ruled country comes under severe criticism on this account. (2) The Salman Rushdie case brought the Islamic death penalty for apostasy to international attention; the Rutherford Institute finds this prohibition to be commonplace in Muslim countries. It considers the stricture to be a profound limitation on religious freedom, arguing that "in most Islamic countries, even Muslims do not have liberty of conscience, that is, the liberty to choose (and change) their religion."
Anti-Semitism Worldwide also finds the Muslim countries to be the ones most actively engaged in anti-Jewish speech and deeds. In dramatic contrast to other parts of the world, where the survey recounts the activities of fringe groups, in the Muslim countries it quotes heads of state, powerful political parties, mainstream newspapers, and leading intellectuals. Elsewhere, anti-Semitism lurks furtively; here it proudly rules.
Also striking, the survey finds that in Western Europe and the Americas, Muslims make up more and more of the threat to Jews. While Rightists harrassed Jews and vandalised Jewish property in Europe, "violent attacks with the intent of causing bodily harm were perpetrated in most cases by Muslim extremists." For example, 1995's only anti-Semitic terrorist act in Europe was carried out not by skinheads but by an Algerian fundamentalist group (the attempted bombing of a Jewish school near Lyons, France). Muslims from South Africa to Argentina to Sweden also outscore the Right in terms of the reach of their anti-Semitic rhetoric and influence: in the United States, for example, Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, is the leading anti-Jewish ideologue.