Akyol argues that coercion in Islam or in any faith for that matter, backfires, and that “one needs a free society to be a genuine Muslim.” He says “it is only through freedom of choice and true conviction that one can become a genuine believer.” Despite the emergence of the puritanical Wahhabi sect prevalent in Saudi Arabia, which not only promotes a literalist reading of the Koran, but also conflates tribal customs with Islam, Akyol describes many other schools of Muslim thought which demonstrate that Islam is indeed compatible with free choice and reason. He contrasts the “Bedouin culture of the desert” with the more cosmopolitan historical contexts in which Islam has flourished and become a beacon of tolerance such as Muslim Spain (711 – 1492), the Ottoman Empire, and today’s modern Turkish state. Akyol asserts that in societies in which trade and commerce are dominant features of the economy Islam is also interpreted in a more open, flexible manner. It is worth noting that the Prophet Mohammed was a successful merchant.Mustafa Akyol expresses concern that those in the West, who observe authoritarian elements within Muslim majority countries, might erroneously conclude that such practices are directly linked to Islam. Akyol not only refutes that argument but also underscores that even if it were partially true, many religions, not just Islam, have fallen victim to violent and rigid interpretations of the faith. Christianity during the time of the Crusades and the Inquisition is a vivid example. But just as Christianity and its followers have reinterpreted the Bible to reconcile their beliefs with liberty and tolerance, Mustafa Aykol insists the “the same change is possible in Islam.” Moreover, Aykol argues that both Islamic and secular governments in the Middle East are equally guilty of attacks on civil liberties. He speaks of two extremes in the Middle East: secular dictators like Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian President, and radical Islamist groups which oppose them. “And this vicious cycle between both extremes destroyed any room for a pluralistic, democratic system,” says Mustafa Akyol. For this reason, Akyol is cautiously optimistic that the democratic uprisings throughout the Arab world, as messy as they will be for some time to come, may foster greater democracy, pluralism and economic freedom, all of which can only bode well for the future of Islam.