Critic of Islam is excoriated by Georgetown students for being “Islamophobic” and promulgating “hate speech”

March 4, 2017 • 11:00 am

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.


43 thoughts on “Critic of Islam is excoriated by Georgetown students for being “Islamophobic” and promulgating “hate speech”

  1. Once everyone jumps on the ‘everything I don’t like is hate speech ‘ and ‘you’re all Nazis’ bandwagons, I wonder if the trend will die out.

    The tactic will soon lose it’s effectiveness when we are all simultaneously oppressed and oppressors.

    Well, except you ciswhiteheteronormativedudedbros, too bad for you! You will always remain oppressors, but somebody has to do it!

  2. I’m so glad I found your site Mr. Coyne because it has definitely helped preserve my sanity. I am appalled at how my feminist friends who have called themselves feminists for decades now, turn their back on women like Ms. Darwish and the millions of women living under oppressive Islamic rule. I am also reminded through these posts that women like Ms. Darwish are risking their lives to speak out. I hope to have just an ounce of that courage. As I sit here in Canada, today’s news reports surround the “Alt-Right” groups protesting against the Islamophobia Motion. Now the Mainstream Media position has perpetuated the narrative that only right wing racists and xenophobes would be against this motion. I remember a time when silencing free speech was protested by the Left! Now the Left is out there protesting against those “fascists” that oppose the motion. It makes my head spin sometimes.

  3. Mr. Panjwani should be encouraged to state whether he thinks what Ms. Darwish has to say could be restated to meet his standards of free speech that is not hate speech. If he can’t say the same thing in acceptable terms, then he must think that what she is saying is untrue, and he should provide evidence that it is untrue. Otherwise he can justly be accused of trying to censor the truth.

    I think it is a fact that Muslims who commit violent crimes against others (‘infidels’ and other Muslims who don’t happen to agree with them on what the right version of Islam is) make extensive reference to the Quran and other Islamic texts to justify their actions. One does not need to soften that truth with statements like “these people aren’t real Muslims” (who knows what a “real” Muslim is, anyway?) or balance them with “but most Muslims are nonviolent, peace-loving, etc.”

    There is a lot of evil stuff in the Old Testament about stoning, slavery, etc., that hardly any Jew or Christian these days takes seriously. What is it about Islam that is different?

    1. According to Sam Harris many Rabbi’s don’t even seem to believe in god. I’m not sure where other moderating influences might come from except perhaps intelligence and a love of learning. (Apologies if this id too stereotypical)
      And with Christians, the moderating influence is probably Jesus saying ‘be nice to other people, even your enemies’. And a separation of the sacred and secular with ‘render unto Caesar that which is Caesars’.
      Obviously that has still allowed a great deal of medieval nastiness by Christians but it seems to provide are doorway for secular enlightenment values to co-exist with the religious.

  4. “Muslim communities recognize the importance of free speech in all situations.” Except those situations which involve the reasonable and very necessary criticism of Islam for its mysogyny, violence towards apostates and homosexuals to name but a few of the traits which no reasonable person would tolerate for one moment in any other group or individual.

    The tactic of smearing opponents who express good and valid criticism by reflecting back the very same accusations but amplified and with no validity whilst adding a few more malicious vilifications is becoming tiresome.

    1. Hit the wrong button before I could add the fact that so many are willing to allow this mudslinging to take the place of reasoned evidence based argument is simply depressing.

      1. Thanks reason and dialog require hearing the other.
        Surprising the young convince colleges to ban speakers with whom few agree, but bringing their points out for debate essential

  5. I love how the Muslim community at Georgetown is the “backbone”of the University and “supports Jesuit values”.

    So much for the Crusades.

  6. Darwish knows what she is talking about as Islam goes -she was in it for decades, grew up in it-, the ‘regressive’ left, intersectional feminists and their ilk clearly do not.
    How long will it take before they realize that Islam is about the most ‘patriarchal’, misogynist, homophobic, intolerant, imperialist and belligerent extant ideology there is? And racism is -of course- not absent: what about ‘abeed’? The very word for ‘slave’ and ‘black african’ is one and the same in Arabic.
    I always considered myself a ‘lefty’, but this smooching up to the most rabid ‘fascistoid’ extant ideology has really made me revise my position.
    [note, I do have problems with Darwish, why convert to Christianity instead of ditching the insanity altogether?}

    1. As re your “why convert to christianity instead of ditching the insanity altogether,” .that. is of my thinking as well, Ms nicky: the insanity, the inanity against, at the least, over half of the World’s human populations, its girls and its women (of any hue !) = .the. 2nd reason (alongside Dr Coyne’s no evidence for any religion’s ‘reality’ as the 1st reason) for why I equate as silly .and. as destructive rubbish … … all religions.


    2. “How long will it take before they realize that Islam is the most patriarchal…”

      This is exactly what I wonder too. I believe and hope that eventually this will happen. It seems like there is so many forces on the Left that would like to silence criticism of Islam but can they really turn a blind eye to adulterers being stoned? FGM? Honor killings? I hope not.

      1. Within “The Stoning of Soraya M” of, the protagonist was killed with her own son (of two), Ms Kelly, casting a first rock at her. At her head, the rest of her Self tied up within the filled grave – like hole, buried up to her bared rib cage and shoulders.

        Of this saga, Ms Soraya M is not an adulterer; she is quite a faithful spouse to a slimy, gouty, thuggish oaf. That accusation had only been the (community’s) rumor spread by her husband and his cohorts so that he could be ‘freed up’ to go on carrying on with another, younger woman.

        Dead by her people’s own hand.

        How (some of) the critics upon Rotten Tomatoes can downgrade and downplay this film (at all !) as one of an “ ‘inappropriately’ ‘heavy – handed’ ‘approach’ ” is freakin’ unbelievable and beyond me ! And flat – out wrong !


  7. Dr.Coyne, in a previous thread about Charles Murray at Middlebury the question came up what his talk to be about:

    “Murray, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was not invited to Middlebury to discuss “The Bell Curve,” but instead to talk about his latest book: “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.””

  8. Criticism of Islam can only credibly come from secular humanist atheists etc.

    Criticism of Islam from a Christian is worthless. Worse than worthless. It is discrediting to criticism of Islam.

    The main issues with Islam all come from the belief in an infallible one true God which Christianity also suffers from. Yes there are some unique issues with Islam that Christianity does not have, but the main issue is the belief in one true God who cares about our morality. This is a toxic idea in any of it’s form.

    Not every voice of criticism against Islam is helpful. Christian criticism of Islam is anti-helpful. And this is coming from someone who could not be more critical of Islam.

    Criticism of Islam from Christians has the same value as criticism of Islam by racists. That is, it has zero or negative value.

    This woman’s voice would be useful were she not a Christian, but as a Christian, her criticism of Islam is worse than useless.

    1. I think you have a point.
      Perhaps not worse than useless though.
      The message, on the true nature of Islam, needs to disseminated my as many means possible.

  9. “deny… mass in-migration of hundreds of thousands of people who are hostile to us and our values”?

    True or false? If false then inflammatory.

        1. The massive demonstrations against the Muhammad cartoons and the ensuing boycott of Danish dairy products. That boycott was so efficient that it led to unique appearance of Lurpak butter on the shelves of my local supermarket.

    1. Definitely false. One may optimistically think victims of Islamic oppression would know better than to make such blanket statements.

      These days people can’t help themselves. The thin (and often religious) veneer of intellectualism and appeal to logic disappears the moment hot-button political issues come up. In this case, the “intellectual” feels the need to condemn what she calls “mass immigration” in the strongest possible terms similar to those used by holders of political power without really giving any evidence or even defining the term “mass immigration”.

      And when confronted, These people almost always resort to trites such as “but I have many Muslim friends”, or “individuals should be judged by the content of their character”.

      Students’ rage about these pundits is understandable. They are young and inexperienced and they think they know what is wrong with the world. Hopefully, instead of using violent forms of protest, students will find their own voice and reason to distinguish such nonsense from some other valid statements made by people like Darwish and deal with each accordingly.

  10. Let’s hope this ‘meme’ doesn’t spread…

    OK we are hearing about reactions in two of the most “liberal” uni regions – CA and East Coast. So what are the reactions at the University of Podunkville? – Maybe we are seeing a bizarre expression of powerlessness by modern students – they know that ‘fixing’ the world is now totally out of their capabilities – so the radical fervour gets projected onto something they can fix…

    They (both sides) also forget – that choice in religion is rarely available to most cultures – as I’ve said before, it is part of the “welcome package” that every baby receives. Unfortunately – the issue really becomes one of identity politics.


  11. If Obama is a radical leftist then I am an astronaut. Darwish either knows little about American politics or she is lying in reference to Obama. As I commented on a post from several days ago, diplomacy requires (despite Trump) that the expression “radical Islamic terrorism” be eschewed by diplomats and political leaders. Instead of that term, they use the term jihadists to refer to the terrorists. And they are quite aware of the threat.

    Darwish’s description of Islam certainly has elements of truth. But, like all religions, what it requires in terms of social and political mandates is in the eyes of the beholder. It is also true that in many Muslim countries the interpretation of Islam is in the control of authoritarians, some of whom want to spread that ideology to the rest of the world, with violence if necessary. So, Darwish may be correct in her description of the dangers of Islam, but her referring to Obama as a radical leftist has really turned me off to her.

    1. Some aspects of Obama did reflect radical leftism.
      The title nine absurdities that universities and colleges have to deal with being one example.

      1. As re “the Title IX absurdities?” of, Mr Waterhouse, within its ideology of
        “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance,” or within its administration thereof?


        1. Co – Author of Title IX, is the late US Congresswoman Ms Patsy Mink, her death in y2002, and in some arenas at a relatively young age still controversially suspicious. Title IX became law on Friday, 23 June y1972, during Richard M Nixon’s first US Presidential term.

          Former President Barack Obama is a figure within your statement, Mr Waterhouse, how exactly ?


          1. Exactly the way he’s responsible for the mess in Iraq, for the 2008 crisis and for 9/11 (not to mention the assassination of JFK).

            1. Oh, there’s little doubt that Obama is responsible for the vacuum which enabled the rise of sectarianism in Iraq after his premature withdrawal.

              As one tweeter expressed it, the left is suffering from “the awful ripple effects from the stigmatization of the Iraq intervention..” and particularly of the left to refuse to face Obama’s presiding over the retreat of democracy in the Middle East.

              In the short term this refusal by large swathes of the left has become a type of decadent grande bouffe at which it eats itself: turn insular and isolationist and identify an identity from which you can indulge yourself in telling off the members of another group whose ideas, contrary to the rigour-free claims of your own ideology, you present as biologically determined; all white men are the same.

              More seriously, in the medium and long term, the western left must take up a rigorous analysis of the Iraq war and its aftermath as I only see it being done to any extent in the security analysis sphere, among whom the facts really matter. The long-term effect of the tiresome knee-jerk short-hand of ‘Iraq’ = all of it – being the definition of predictable failure is catastrophic.

              If universal human rights are not worth defending everywhere and we become more interested in who can have a dump where, this is the trivialisation of the left. In some mood of exasperation, Marx once exclaimed, “Then I am not a Marxist.” In a zeitgeist where western leftist leaders openly excuse Islamo-fascists and others wibble on about punching right-wingers they don’t like, I know how he felt.

  12. So many people seem not to get that what you say is speech, not “free speech”. Free speech is your right to say it.
    This is a silly error in logic.
    Most posters here, myself included, would like to see the exterpation of all religions.

  13. Late to this, but I feel bound to point out the rebuttal that you Yanks have to what Jerry refers to: “Islam is a religion espoused by “people of color”, and thereby gets a free pass …”

    In the case of North America it ain’t true because the approximate ethnic breakdown of US Muslims is 1/3 whites. 1/3 Asians and 1/3 blacks. So the simple US answer is , “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    In Europe the ethnic ratios of Muslims are much closer to one’s assumptions: so Europeans can’t make that point. But it’d be great to be an American for a while in order to tell your interlocutor to stop empathetically wound-collecting for your imaginary oppressed group.

  14. As some here have posted in the past that the various and assorted “flavors” of Islam can’t seem to get along as well as Christians, consider this: In the not so distant past, during the “troubles” in Northern Ireland, Ian Paisley railed against Catholics. Catholics denounce the Protestants still. Let’s face it xenophobia has many faces.

  15. How embarrassing. I say all the time that nowadays politics trumps feminism. If you are a feminist and you don’t speak out about the treatment of women in Islamic countries, dont even call yourself a feminist. Do they not deserve the same rights as every other woman? How embarrassing.

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