Michelle Kung
January 23, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Canadian writer Irshad Manji is taking no chances with the U.S. publication of ”The Trouble With Islam,” a searing critique of her Muslim faith and its record on human rights, women, and minorities. The book has already provoked vehement responses abroad (calling fellow Muslims ”an army of automatons in the name of Allah” will do that) and forced the Ugandan native to travel with a security guard and install bulletproof glass in her Toronto apartment.

Manji, a 35-year-old lesbian, is an unlikely advocate for Islamic reform. The ex-host of Canada’s ”QueerTelevision” is inviting new interpretations of the Koran by reintroducing the Islamic tradition of ijtihad, or independent thinking.

Is Manji concerned about being issued a fatwa? ”I do not lose a wink of sleep,” she says bluntly. ”I remember asking Salman Rushdie why should I write a book that may invite all this danger, and he said, ‘Because, Irshad, a book is more important than a life. Once you put a thought into the world, it can be disagreed with, but it can’t be unthought.”’

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