Monday, November 20, 2006

Silencing Nonie Darwish

Nonie Darwish is an author and outspoken Muslim advocate of peace with Israel, women's rights, and a critic of Islamist radicalism. Recently, she was invited to speak at Brown University. However, her appearance was canceled after Muslim students at Brown complained. In doing so, these students have made Ms. Darwish's case for her. This piece by Adam Brodsky, reproduced by Frontpage Magazine, explains:

In plugging their ears to Darwish, Brown's Muslim students proved her very point: Muslims who attempt constructive self-criticism are quickly and soundly squelched - by other Muslims.

"Speaking out for human rights, women's rights, equality or even peace with Israel is a taboo that can have serious consequences" in the Arab world, Darwish says. In part to drive home that point, she wrote a book, just out. Its title says it all: "Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror."

Darwish argues that her own community - in the Middle East and in America - is hostile to criticism, even from Muslims. After 9/11, she says, many in Egypt refused to believe that Muslims were responsible. Instead, they blamed "the Zionist conspiracy."

From her childhood in the '50s, she's seen seething animosity toward Jews, Israel, America and non-believers generally pervert her culture. "I asked myself, as a Muslim Arab child, was I ever taught peace? The answer is no. We learned just the opposite: honor and pride can only come from jihad and martyrdom."

Ms. Darwish explains further in this interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online:

Lopez: Why don'’t we hear from more Muslim moderates?

Darwish: There is a fear factor that all Arabs share of never speak against our own culture, tribe or religion and it does not matter how wrong or right they are. But it is more than just fear. Most Muslims believe that jihad is their duty and is part and parcel of being a good Muslim. That creates a conflict with us since many of us truly believe that many of these terrorists are great jihadists. Osama bin Laden was a hero among many Muslims. Many Muslim leaders tell the West in English they are against violent jihad; but in private, in Arabic, they praise the jihadists and the martyrs.

Lopez: Is there anything we can do to encourage more moderate Muslims to speak out?

Darwish: After 9/11 very few Americans of Arab and Muslim origin spoke out and from my experience it took us a long time to get noticed by Western media. Western media still regards Muslim organizations such as CAIR as representative of moderate Muslims in America. This is not the case. Radical 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.

By revoking their invitation to Nonie Darwish, the Brown Hillel organization has helped enable the silencing of moderate Muslims.


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