“This is Sharia bending all of ethics and laws of this country, because no one can criticize Islam, without penalty.”
by Jerry Gordon, The Iconoclast, November 19, 2009
I was stunned to find out that our colleague, Nonie Darwish, co-founder of Former Muslims United had events at both Columbia and Princeton cancelled at the last moment this week. This was on the heels of her appearance at the Columbus, Ohio, Rifqa Bary Rally, and virtually, as she told me by phone this morning, while flying to New York for both events. The reason is taqiyyah on the part of Campus Imams and dhimmitude displayed by Campus Rabbis and the lack of courage of their convictions on the part of Jewish students in supporting forums for speakers exercising their right to free speech. I went through the process of facilitating the recent Geert Wilders event at Columbia University, my alma mater, and knowing what Craig Snider of the David Horowitz Freedom Center in Philadelphia had experienced at Temple University, I know firsthand the process and the difficulties of airing controversial views on college campuses.
We noted in our interview with Kurt Westergaard, the controversial Danish Mohammed Cartoonist, that he was lionized at Princeton for exercising his free speech, so, why wouldn’t Darwish, author of “Cruel and Usual Punishment, “ appear on both ivy campuses? This time it is all about being an apostate from Islam and trying to tell the truth about the core of Quranic canon beliefs and Shariah law.
Darwish was sponsored at Princeton by Tigers for Israel (TFI) and the American Whig-Cliosophic Society. The report in today’s edition of The Daily Princetonian, “Egyptian activist invitation withdrawn,” is a sorry display of dissembling by campus sponsoring groups, intimidated by the adverse comments of Muslim and Jewish chaplains about Darwish’s ‘extremist views’ on Islam as a totalitarian ideology inimical to the human rights of women, gays and unbelievers. The excuse that Princeton Jewish campus leaders also gave was that they relied on due diligence from the Boston-based Middle East Media watchdog group, CAMERA. We note that the CAMERA Campus program was also endeavoring to arrange Darwish’s appearance at Columbia.
In many ways this is reflective of the PC multicultural views of American Jewish leaders who have fecklessly supported Jewish Muslim dialogue dissected in the NER article, “Chelm on the Charles River.” Jewish students on these elite campuses unfortunately have been suckled on this multiculturalist tolerance world view at home and shy away from controversy. Their behavior gives life to the Yiddish expression about cowering Jews during the Czarist Russian pogroms, “Sha shtil yidin,” (be quiet it will all pass). At Columbia, we found the Hillel chapter supporting the Muslim Brotherhood front group on campus, the Muslim Student Association, which criticized Wilders appearance there. The MSA, with the alleged support of the Hillel chapter, stated that “freedom from fear” trumps free speech in a Columbia Spectator op-ed.
Darwish said: “Muslim Imams have total disregard to freedom of speech for the sake of protecting blasphemy Sharia laws under the guise of being offended and accusing any critics of Islamophobia and distortion of the “true Islam.” She went onto say, “This is Sharia bending all of ethics and laws of this country, because no one can criticize Islam, without penalty.”
Read the Daily Princetonian article below. It portrays graphically the intimidation and collapse of free speech rights that Darwish and others have faced on college campuses. Is it a mere coincidence that this has erupted since the Cairo (“outreach” to the Muslim world), speech of President Obama?
The Daily Princetonian
Egyptian activist’s invitation withdrawn
By Hannah Martins
Published: Thursday, November 19th, 2009
A planned Wednesday talk by controversial Egyptian-American activist Nonie Darwish was cancelled Tuesday evening when both of the event’s sponsors, Tigers for Israel (TFI) and the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, withdrew their sponsorship, citing her criticism of Islam.
Darwish, a writer and the founder of Arabs for Israel and Former Muslims United, was scheduled to give a talk Wednesday afternoon titled “Sharia Law and Perspectives on Israel.” TFI officers rescinded their invitation, however, explaining that they had not been fully aware of Darwish’s views when they invited her to speak.
Though TFI had been planning Darwish’s visit for nearly three weeks and advertised it with posters across campus, TFI president Addie Lerner ’11 said that her organization, which is affiliated with the Center for Jewish Life (CJL), did not wish to be seen as endorsing Darwish by sponsoring her lecture. “We didn’t know in the beginning that [Darwish’s] views were not at all in line with what we believe,” Lerner explained.
After TFI co-vice president Rafael Grinberg ’12 proposed inviting Darwish to campus, Lerner said she read “the first couple of paragraphs” of Darwish’s entry on Wikipedia before extending the invitation. She added that she did minimal research on Darwish largely because she trusted Grinberg and the nonpartisan media watchdog group Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) to vet Darwish.
“I accept complete responsibility for the fact that I did not vet her fully,” Lerner said. “I am very sorry if people thought we agreed with [Darwish’s views].”
On her blog, Darwish — formerly Muslim and now Christian — has called Islam “the greatest lie in human history” and criticized Muslim law for encouraging “vigilante street justice to bring about Islamic submission.”
“It was clear that she was very critical of radical Islam in the contemporary Arab world,” TFI co-vice president Jeffrey Mensch ’11 said in an e-mail. “However, we did not realize the extent to which she denounces not just radical Islam, but all of Islam.”
Whig-Clio president Ben Weisman ’11 said the society withdrew its sponsorship and did not permit the event to take place in Whig Hall as planned because of the withdrawal. “Our decision to co-host the event was based on our belief that by extending an offer to speak to Ms. Darwish, members of TFI deemed her views a legitimate element of the mainstream discourse and in part agreed with her incendiary opinions,” Weisman said in an e-mail. “By rescinding their offer, TFI indicated their understanding that Darwish’s views have no place in the campus community, essentially rendering irrelevant our attempt at opening them up for debate.” Weisman is also the director of national sales and development for The Daily Princetonian.
Coordinator of Muslim Life Sohaib Sultan and CJL director Rabbi Julie Roth both said they played a role in changing TFI’s opinion of Darwish. Sultan said he contacted Roth on Monday and discussed with her why Darwish’s appearance on campus could offend the Muslim community.
“[Darwish] fails to make any distinction between extremism and mainstream Islam,” Sohaib said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian. “She has branded the entire faith as backward and violent and against women’s rights. That type of rhetoric goes beyond academic discourse and into the demonization of a people.”
Sultan noted that he assumed that Roth and the board of TFI were not fully aware of the strong objections concerning Darwish. “I have a very good relationship with the CJL,” he said, adding that he aimed to share with Roth and the TFI “what types of feelings and divisions” Darwish’s visit could foster on campus. Lerner and Mensch said TFI then decided to withdraw sponsorship of the event upon learning more about Darwish’s opinions.
Grinberg, however, said he thinks Darwish was not permitted to speak because TFI feared a large-scale protest. “In my opinion, it has become an issue about whether or not this is allowed to happen at Princeton,” he said. “This is a big step backward, because basically students are taking their preconceived notions of this person to protest and not to listen, instead of going to the lecture and seeing for themselves.”
Princeton Committee on Palestine (PCP) president Yoel Bitran ’11 said PCP did not ask either TFI or Whig-Clio to cancel the event. “It makes sense that hate speech wouldn’t be something encouraged on campus,” he noted.
But PCP was planning a campaign “to inform the community about Darwish and to encourage people to go to the event and challenge her by asking questions,” Bitran explained.
On Monday, the Arab Society of Princeton held a meeting, attended by Arab Muslims and Arab Christians, to discuss the issue, Arab Society president Sami Yabroudi ’11 and former president Sarah Mousa ’10 said in a joint statement. “Nonie Darwish is to Arabs and Muslims what Ku Klux Klan members, skinheads and neo-Nazis are to other minorities, and we decided that the role of her talk in the logical, intellectual discourse espoused by PrincetonUniversity needed to be questioned,” they said of the meeting.
On Wednesday afternoon, Lerner sent an e-mail to the members of the Muslim Students Association apologizing for the initial decision to invite Darwish to campus and explaining that the event had been canceled. “I sincerely apologize for offending any person or group on campus, especially the Muslim community,” she said in the e-mail. “Tigers for Israel deeply regrets the initial sponsorship, and we do not in any way endorse [Darwish’s] views.” …