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First-Ever "Chutzpah Awards"
From She's Got Chutzpah in the May 2004 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.

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Irshad Manji: A writer whose book led to death threats but still speaks her mind.

When 35-year-old Irshad Manji sat down to create the engaging and lively The Trouble with Islam, she knew that her book would be bigger, much bigger, than girl meets God. As Manji writes, Islam is the only major religion where extremists hold such complete sway over the mainstream. Given that modern interpretations of the faith still call for women to be stoned for adultery, and being homosexual is just cause for murder (Manji is a lesbian), she was aware that she would come to the attention of Islamic bullies and terrorists.

Her book is an open letter to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, a letter that begins, "I have to be honest with you. Islam is on very thin ice with me." She confronts her fellow Muslims on their blatant anti-Semitism, for the misleading clarion call against American imperialism, for silence in the face of terrorism, for the abuse of Muslim women in conservative Islamic communities.

Manji has become the target of death threats and must travel with what she calls "appropriate security." She has been called "the nonfiction Salman Rushdie." Shortly before her book came out, Manji met with Rushdie and asked him why she should publish a book that would invite the kind of havoc into her life. Manji says he told her, "Once you put out a thought, it cannot be unthought. A book is more important than a life."

During Manji's last visit to her childhood home, her mother tucked a card into her suitcase. Her mother wrote to thank her for speaking up, for not abandoning her faith but challenging it. The letter concluded, "Bravo. You go, girl."
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