I have not read Ali's new book so I'm not in a position to evaluate either writer's claims about it. But this selection from Robert's piece leaped out at me:
The word “provocative” is often a term of approbation; here it is clearly intended pejoratively. The only people who could possibly be “provoked” by Nomad are Islamic fundamentalists who abuse women and beat children; much of the book is a passionate denunciation of the way violence is routinely used against children in the Muslim world. Of course, equally provoked are ultra-liberal Western commentators who regard any criticism of Islamic practices whatsoever, especially those specifically sanctioned by the Koran, as “provocative” and thus somehow illegitimate.Roberts articulates a concern that nags at me both personally and professionally. As someone who has worked on multicultural issues in higher education, which is becoming increasingly more diverse, I worry that in our rush to create a peaceful and stable environment we end up sacrificing our ability to think critically about culture.