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In the terminology of Islam, the dhimmi is a protected minority; or, more exactly, a Jew, Christian, or adherent of some other recognized non-Islamic religion who lives under Muslim rule. According to Islamic law, the dhimmi may practice his faith in safety, though he is in all ways a second-class citizen.

The author of two powerful books on the historical experience of the dhimmi, Bat Ye'or (pseudonym of scholar resident in Switzerland) brings her unique prism to bear on current issues. What she finds is as dismaying as it is fascinating. First, she shows that many Muslims, and especially the fundamentalists, wish to repeal the civil rights of religious minorities and turn them back into dhimmis. Second, these Muslims see Jews and Christians in strikingly parallel ways; or, as a slogan shouted by groups burning churches in Egypt has it, "Today it's Zionism and tomorrow Christianity; today it's the Saturday [people], tomorrow the Sunday [people]." Third, and most surprising, she shows how dhimmi habits have migrated to the West, especially in those church hierarchies which refrain from speaking out against the persecution of Christians in the Middle East for fear of alienating Muslim opinion.

Bat Ye'or's implied policy message is that Jews and Christians should not appease Muslim triumphalism but must cooperate in order not to retreat into dhimmi ghettos. To which this reviewer adds: and they should bring non-fundamentalist Muslims into their compact too.