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  • Cited by 21
  • Nilay Saiya, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
August 2018
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:

Book description

Religious terrorism poses a significant challenge for many countries around the world. Extremists who justify violence in God's name can be found in every religious tradition, and attacks perpetrated by faith-based militants have increased dramatically over the past three decades. Given the reality of religious terrorism today, it would seem counterintuitive that the best weapon against violent religious extremism would be for countries and societies to allow for the free practice of religion; yet this is precisely what this book argues. Weapon of Peace investigates the link between terrorism and the repression of religion, both from a historical perspective and against contemporary developments in the Middle East and elsewhere. Drawing upon a range of different case studies and quantitative data, Saiya makes the case that the suppression and not the expression of religion leads to violence and extremism, and that safeguarding religious freedom is both a moral and strategic imperative.


'Weapon of Peace is ​an extraordinarily refreshing and rare achievement​. Just as the early-modern 'Wars of Religion' taught generations of Europeans that schemes of religious conformity would only fuel rather than dampen sectarian violence, Saiya’s ground-breaking book promises to make the causal nexus between religious persecution and religious terrorism a more central and serious subject of discussion in our own era of sanguinary religious conflict. There are many valuable studies of religion and terrorism. But Weapon of Peace is an absolute must-read for scholars and policy makers alike.'

Timothy Samuel Shah - Director for International Research, Religious Freedom Research Project at the Berkley Center, Georgetown University and Senior Advisor, Religious Freedom Institute

'With prodigious documentation and lucid prose, Saiya shows how state repression of religion propels the violence and fanaticism afflicting our world today - a finding of enormous strategic importance. Elegant, timely, and fateful, this book is a masterful achievement.'

Allen D. Hertzke - David Ross Boyd Professor, University of Oklahoma

'This is an important work that challenges core academic assumptions, and should be widely read. … Highly recommended.'

C.J. Wright Source: Choice

'The argument displays a mastery of the research literature, is very clearly and systematically delivered, and is fairly original - at least in its scope. Everyone with an interest in terrorism should read this book.'

Lorne L. Dawson Source: Political Science Quarterly

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