Indispensable for Middle East watchers, Miller's eye-opening, firsthand report begins in Sudan in 1985 with the jubilant public execution of Mahmoud Taha, founder of a nonviolent Islamic reformist group. His conviction for sedition and heresy by a militant Muslim regime that commits appalling crimes, she observes, should serve as a warning to other Middle Eastern states tempted to institute theocratic rule. In virtually every country she visited-Egypt, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.-Miller, New York Times correspondent and former Cairo bureau chief, found that the appeal of fundamentalist, militant Islam was growing, though it was often brutally suppressed, as in Algeria, where a war raging between the secular government and armed Islamic radicals has claimed an estimated 40,000 lives. In Israel in 1993, she interviewed a terrorist of the Muslim group Hamas and met with members of the largely nonviolent Islamic movement, which was increasingly divided over whether Arabs should integrate into Israeli society or pursue cultural and institutional separatism. Her trenchant observations on Libya, Lebanon, Jordan and Iran round out a compelling odyssey.
God Has Ninety-Nine Names
Reporting from a Militant Middle East
by Judith Miller
Simon & Schuster, 1996. 576pp. $15
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly
April 1, 1996