Provocative speech by Nonie Darwish at UC Berkely last night, the kickoff speech of Islamofascism Week there. Darwish recently spoke at Wellesley where she was the target of passive/aggressive harrassment by some Muslim students, as discussed here. Her reception at UC Berkely was far more menacing, but she perseveres, unafraid of the goons who would silence her.
"As an American woman of Muslim Arab origin, I cherish the freedoms America has given me; a right all too scarce in the Middle East where speaking for human rights, women’s rights, democracy and even peace with Israel, is a taboo with serious consequences."
"In America, I learned that no ideology or religion is beyond questioning. Ideologies that don’t answer the hard questions will face intellectual bankruptcy. I would like to stress that this is not a discussion about the good and peace loving Muslims, but about an ideology of violence and hatred that has brought oppression, unrest, violence and terror to the Middle East and has now spread to the rest of the world. Radicals have made the slightest criticism, critical thinking and free inquiry an insult to Islam. Arab feminists, reformers and intellectuals are intimidated, threatened or killed. Even the late Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was stabbed in Cairo in 1994 by a radical Muslim who claimed he insulted Islam. That is why we all must welcome an open discussion. The best weapon in the war on terror and Islamo-Fascism is the truth."
She talked about the first time she went to a mosque in the U.S. after coming here from Egypt:
"I moved to the US in 1978. In my first visit to a mosque in America, we were told not to assimilate in America and that Islam is here to become the dominant religion. I was told to cover up in Islamic clothes; but how can I do that when I have never worn Islamic clothes in Egypt? Women in Egypt until the 1980’s did not wear Islamic clothes."
No doubt, that same message is still preached here in many mosques, unfortunately. Regarding the recent (and controversial) installation of foot washing faucets in some airports and colleges, used for washing feet before prayers, Darwish is apalled:
"I have lived in the Middle East for 30 years and have never seen special faucets for Wada in schools or universities, except in mosques. This only exists in Saudi Arabia. The deception is phenomenal. Islamists are pushing Wahabi Saudi values in America; values that I have never even seen in Egypt."
"I have not come to America to become a Wahabi Saudi."
Very stirring lecture, really makes me wish I was able to hear her when she was at Wellesley last week. Please read the whole thing! Her conclusion:
"To conclude: Religion, any religion, must adapt to the universal concept of Human Rights, freedom of choice of one’s religion, equal rights of women and minorities. As Arab Americans what are we going to do about it? Are we going to remain silent and defensive? We owe America honest answers. We need to inspire true reform in our culture of origin. There are 7 women in Iran right now awaiting death by stoning -- are we going to stand by them or are we going to fail them? Muslim converts out of Islam are in hiding; are we going to allow them to get killed under the name of Islam? Are we going to see the Egyptian Christian population continue to suffer discrimination?"
"....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."