Egyptian author speaks against intolerance

This is a republication of an original article written by Jessica Daniel in the Collegiate Times on Wednesday, October, 17, 2007.

The Virginia Tech Friends of Israel brought Arab-American author and activist Nonie Darwish to campus to speak about her views on Islamic fundamentalism.

a woman in a purple suit raises her arm while standing at a podium

Muslim speaker Nonie Darwish addressed an audience in the Graduate Life Center in Donaldson Brown.

As a child, Darwish was raised Muslim and was taught to hate Jews in Israel as well as having contempt towards many other countries. After moving to the U.S. in 1978, she stopped attending mosques because she felt they shared a radical, anti-American message.

“We Arabs are fighting an imaginary Jew of our own imagination,” Darwish said. “”No society is perfect but the way Jews are treated by my culture is a disgrace.”

Darwish shared with the audience her thoughts on 9/11 and the war on terror. She experienced 9/11 firsthand, which led to her increased activism today.

“Before 9/11, I took my children to visit Egypt,” Darwish said. “They had so many economical problems and yet, all I saw in the newspapers was their conflicts with America. Our plane arrived back in the U.S. late on Sept. 10, and in the morning I saw the first plane crash into the World Trade Center. After that, I knew it was my culture.”

After living 30 years in Egypt and witnessing attacks from her own heritage, Darwish began speaking publicly about oppression in the Middle East and its wrongful treatment of women.

“I love my culture and that’s why I speak, but it’s in desperate need of reformation,” Darwish said. “The more the United States tries to help stabilize the Middle East, the more they are despised by my people. America wants to leave and they can’t because they have a moral obligation.”

After Darwish made her final statements, she took questions from the audience. Many questioned her religion and how she can speak against her culture. She supported each answer and related each topic to the substantial need for peace in the Middle East.