On Nov. 17 and 18, I was to speak at Columbia and Princeton Universities on “Shariah Law and Perspectives on Israel” – but hours before I was to speak, the events were abruptly canceled.
According to the daily Princetonian, Princeton Imam Sohaib Sultan said he played a role in changing the sponsor’s opinion of me. Sultan said, “Darwish’s appearance on campus could offend the Muslim community,” adding, “I have a very good relationship with the [Center for Jewish Life.]” The imam, Muslim Students Association and Arab Society all said that, to Muslims, I am akin to the Ku Klux Klan, skinheads and neo-Nazis. According to Shariah, their claim could be right in the sense that Muslim blasphemy and apostasy laws regard those who question Islam as enemies of the state, a crime punishable by death.
I understand why Jewish groups disinvited me after Muslim pressure, since they are the ones who must live daily with Muslim groups who can make life unpleasant. Jewish groups are trying to make friends with Muslims to show the world “it can happen.” They are trying to accomplish in the small world of campus life what Israel has failed to accomplish for generations. Sadly, they cannot see that appeasement has already been tried and failed in real life. For centuries, Jews, Copts, Assyrians, Kurds, Lebanese Christians and others had to live under Shariah where they could not have equal rights under the law with Muslims. Those who attempted to live under self-rule were crushed. Minorities have left and are leaving the Middle East to escape forced Islamization and Arabization. Women are still being stoned, and apostate and honor killers are getting away with murder.
The terrifying global implications of Shariah are irrelevant to some Muslims at Princeton. Did the good imam ever write to El-Azhar University demanding a change in the definition of jihad in Muslim scriptures, which state “jihad is to war with non-Muslims to establish the religion.” Did he ever send an open letter to imams across the Middle East demanding an end to characterizing Jews as “apes, pigs and enemies of Allah”? Did he ever campaign against honor and apostate killings? Does he denounce outright lies about Jews such as “Jews are behind 9/11 and the death of Arafat”? Does he condemn imams who recite the Hadith commanding Muslims to kill Jews wherever they find them? Do imams on Arab TV appall him when they promote terrorism against Jews worldwide? Does he think Hamas and Hezbollah are terror groups? Does he agree with the recent fatwa of death for apostasy that El-Azhar and 5,000 mosques in Egypt issued against Egyptian intellectual and reformist Sayed El Qemany?
Instead, the imam stifled inquiry of the above atrocities and characterized those who question as personal attackers of all Muslims. In the process he created a hostile environment where his friendships are determined by compliance. Blasphemy Shariah laws are now creeping into many institutions of higher learning in the U.S.
I lived for 30 years in the Middle East under the tyranny of Shariah where victims were forbidden to cry for help. The last thing Muslim apologists can tolerate are former Muslim speakers who spill the beans. Even Hadiths that condemn a whole group of people, the Jews, to being illegal to exist cannot be questioned. I, myself, used to be a Jew hater, and only by questioning did I find reality.
My speech at Princeton was going to start this way: “I want to stress that I am not here to offend the good and peace-loving Muslims. Most people, including myself, don’t want or care to criticize religion, in the sense that it is a personal relationship with God. But if a religion, any religion, expands itself to the point of a one-party political and legal system while condemning those who question to death, then it makes perfect sense that such a religion has put itself in the realm of criticism. No religion or ideology can be beyond questioning when human rights are at stake. Religious or secular, we all must question obstacles to freedom and peace. The rights of any one religion must never supersede human rights or the rights of other religions to flourish. Tolerating intolerance is not a virtue; it is gross negligence.”
By stifling free speech, shaming speakers of the truth and calling them names, we allow tyranny to win. Fear tactics has worked for centuries in the Muslim world; now it is spreading like cancer in U.S. institutions of higher learning.
Nonie Darwish is the author of “Cruel And Usual Punishment” and “Now They Call Me Infidel.”