Nonie Darwish is an Egyptian-American who converted to Christianity from Islam, wrote several books criticizing Islam, its treatment of women and sharia law, and is the director of Former Muslims United. Given that her father was assassinated by the Israeli Defense Force for Islamic terrorism, you’d think she’d be violently anti-Israel, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, as she is a strong supporter of Israel. Here’s the mission statement from her website:
While the radical leftists, from Obama to the universities to the dominant media deny that radical Islam is a threat to America and the West and abet the mass in-migration of hundreds of thousands of people who are hostile to us and our values, they aggressively shut out voices which are warning of the danger. We are truly in a David-versus-Goliath moment.
There are stark differences between Islamic and Western culture. Above all, Islamic Sharia law is utterly incompatible with our Constitution and Judeo-Christian values. We who understand this better than anyone, because we have lived on both sides and have chosen the West, need to be heard and read in the media, on the college campuses, in print and in the government.
That’s a bit strong for my taste (I don’t see Obama as a “radical leftist”), but hardly something that should get people shouting. But if you think that, you’d be wrong, for today’s students don’t require much provocation to start rampaging.
Here are a few of Darwish’s quotes and statements about her from Wikipedia (they are sourced):
“After 9/11 very few Americans of Arab and Muslim origin spoke out… Muslim groups in the U.S. try to silence us and intimidate American campuses who invite us to speak. I often tell Muslim students that Arab Americans who are speaking out against terrorism are not the problem, it’s the terrorists who are giving Islam a bad name. And what the West must do is ask the politically incorrect questions and we Americans of Arab and Muslim origin owe them honest answers.”
“Just because I am pro- Israel does not mean I am anti- Arab, its just that my culture is in desperate need for reformation which must come from within.”
Darwish believes Islam is an authoritarian ideology that is attempting to impose on the world the norms of seventh-century culture of the Arabian Peninsula. She writes that Islam is a “sinister force” that must be resisted and contained. She remarks that it is hard to “comprehend that an entire religion and its culture believes God orders the killing of unbelievers.” She claims that Islam and Sharia form a retrograde ideology that adds greatly to the world’s stock of misery.
She claims the Qur’an is a text that is “violent, incendiary, and disrespectful” and says that brutalization of women, the persecution of homosexuals, honor killings, the beheading of apostates and the stoning of adulterers come directly out of the Qur’an.
I’ve read a few of her talks and watched some videos: she seems like a conservative Christian who strongly opposes Islam as an ideology as well as a religion—mainly because of its oppression of gays and women as well as its corporal punishment of criminals. I haven’t seen her espouse any “bigotry” (true Islamophobia, or rathter “Muslimophobia”). Rather, she called for the extirpation of the religion, which of course her opponents—and they are many, especially on college campuses—mistake as calls for violence against Muslims. (The same wrongheaded accusation has been made against Ayaan Hirsi Ali.) You can say “religion must go” without saying “let’s kill all the believers,” but apparently that’s too subtle a distinction for Muslim apologists.
Darwish has spoken on (and been protested at) many college campuses. In the latest incident, following her invitation to speak last Tuesday to the Georgetown University College Republicans (co-sponsored by the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute), she was attacked for “hate speech” (which of course is not seen as “free speech”), and was demonized by the liberal campus magazine, The Georgetown Voice, as being “anti-Muslim.” Here’s are some of the views of author Ali Panjwani, a Georgetown student (my emphasis):
As a Muslim-American student studying in the country’s capital, it pains me deeply to hear this rhetoric surrounding Islam. It hurts me to hear the man who I must call my president go directly after my identity and the livelihood of my community. My religion that has made me who I am and drives my inner force is under attack—the faith that has instilled in me the virtues of compassion, service, and justice is being compromised. It is emotionally exhausting to wake up every morning and witness Islamophobia—a vicious challenge to my being—spreading like wildfire.
Institutions like Georgetown University play an important role in combating Islamophobia, especially in an increasingly heated political climate. Being a respected institution in the global sphere, Georgetown has the responsibility to denounce the Islamophobia of the current administration and provide a safe haven for Muslim and international students who are affected by its policy changes and hate speech. To my dismay, the Georgetown University College Republicans, the Georgetown Bipartisan Coalition, and the Georgetown Review are breaking from this responsibility of the university community to combat Islamophobia.
. . . On Tuesday, Feb. 28, the College Republicans are providing Nonie Darwish a platform to spew her hateful and violent views on Islam in an event titled, “Women in Sharia: A conversation with Nonie Darwish.”
That title sounds fairly innocuous, no? The fact that Mr. Panjwani can’t distinguish bigotry against Muslims from condemnation of Islam can also be seen in his demonization (and distortion) of the views of Asra Nomani, a friend of mine who is a practicing Muslim but who deplores the religion’s excesses and misogyny:
On Wednesday, March 1, the Georgetown Bi-Partisan Coalition and the Georgetown Review are providing a similar platform to Asra Nomani, who many know as the Muslim immigrant woman who voted for Trump. However, she is not just any Trump supporter who is female, Muslim, and an immigrant. She has a long history of statements and actions that have perpetuated the same Islamophobia as Darwish and Trump’s administration. Nomani argued for the religious and racial profiling of Muslims saying, “There is one common denominator defining those who’ve got their eyes trained on U.S. targets: MANY of them are Muslim …”
Finally, Panjwani solemnly tells us that what Nomani and Darwish purvey cannot be considered free speech, but “hate speech,” which he says is different and should be censured (and the speakers censored). This kind of softheaded and unthinking rhetoric is getting tiresome (my emphasis):
My critique of these speakers is not an effort to silence free speech. Muslim communities recognize the importance of free speech in all situations. However, [JAC: There’s that inevitable “however”!] these speakers are not exercising free speech, they are exercising hate speech, a speech of the kind that no organization, especially at Georgetown, should endorse or give a platform to. It is also not enough to make a statement dissociating with the views of these speakers. How are we going to stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters, which these groups at Georgetown claim to do, by emboldening individuals who frankly spread false information and promote hatred and even in some cases, incite violence? The invitation to these speakers should be rescinded by these groups because their hate speech is not in line with the Jesuit values of Georgetown and is not constructive. These individuals allow no space for dialogue and are unyielding in their views that the religion of Islam is a problem. Their being invited to speak on this campus is unequivocally irresponsible, rationally unjustifiable and dangerous to the safety of the already-vulnerable Muslim community I belong to—a community that is a backbone to this institution and our country.
Well, couldn’t it be true that Islam really is a problem, just as many religions have been? No, we can’t say that, and anybody who does should be censored and their speaking invitations revoked.
Fortunately, Darwish’s invitation wasn’t revoked, nor was she shouted down, but, as the New English Review reports, it wasn’t smooth sailing:
A prominent anti-Islam author had to be protected by security during a planned speech at Georgetown University Tuesday night when pro-Muslim activists threatened her.
Nonie Darwish was entered and departed the event with guards and faced protesters shouting at her in hopes of causing a scene, said organizers.
Outside the event, activists at the Catholic university held a pro-Muslim demonstration and handed out a flyer that accused her of anti-Muslim hate.
. . . Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute President Michelle Easton told Secrets, “This is a woman who spent 30 years living under Sharia law in Cairo and Gaza before finally escaping to America—only for some to attempt to oppress and silence her in the ‘land of the free.’ Why should ANY ideology be above criticism? Nonie has fatwas on her head in over 50 countries— countries that, if Nonie were to set foot, have an Islamic duty (under Sharia law) to imprison and behead Nonie. Why should her criticism of sharia law and the Islamic values that have endangered her very life be met with protests? Why are we not allowed to question and criticize Islam?”
Why indeed? Well, we know the answer: Islam is a religion espoused by “people of color”, and thereby gets a free pass for its misogyny, homophobia, and calls for murder of apostates and infidels. But nobody dares point this out.
At least the protests at Georgetown were free from violence, but probably only because security guards were there. And yes, those protests constitute free speech. But how judicious is it to demonize a former Muslim, one whose dad was assassinated by the IDF, and who is living under a fatwa in Egypt so that can never set foot in her home country without fear of being murdered. I don’t know what kind of world would demonize someone living under a fatwa as an “Islamophobe”.
Darwish was also the subject of protests at Berkeley that accused her of Islamophobia. If you think they’re justified, you can read the entire text of her Berkeley talk here. The speech, though passionate, is against the ideology of Islam, not against Muslims. I suspect most readers would agree with most of what Darwish said, including her final paragraphs below. Despite that, she was shouted down and forced to terminate her talk.
Well, nothing new here; I’m just reporting these things as they come in, and call your attention to Darwish’s ending, in which she properly decries the Western Left’s silence on the illiberalism of Islam:
If Islam is a religion of peace then we must demand better from our religious leaders. We’ve had it with the self-anointed intolerant Ayatollahs, Mullahs and Sheikhs who act like Allah and silence free speech by issuing fatwas of death.
Western feminists must embrace a single standard for both the West and Muslim society. Feminists and everyone else concerned with human freedom must support Muslim dissidents, both male and female, who are risking their lives in a battle for women’s rights under Islam.
I ask the support of the American left. You should be our natural allies because we are the reformers and defenders of freedoms in the Middle East.