The Interview: Nonie Darwish


July 5, 2017 - San Francisco, CA - - We trust that our readers will enjoy the following interview, having read the previous review of Ms. Darwish’s new book.

Q. When you address young people on college campuses, what are the most frequently asked questions of you?

A. "A lot of young people on college campuses, they ask me, "Aren't you afraid of speaking out?" It's really sad, because my answer is usually, "There are no ideologies or religions in America that are beyond questioning, and I'm not here to offend the good and peace-loving Muslims in any way. My whole family in Egypt are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet, and they're Muslim." I feel that I always want to assure them I'm not speaking about people. My speech is solely about the ideology of Islam."

Q. Have you ever been a victim of organized or spontaneous demonstrations against you?

A. "Oh, yeah. College campuses are usually very [hostile] to anyone who tries to speak against Islam. For me personally, I've been called an Islamophobe, a hater. I spoke at Berkeley one time, years ago. I was invited by the Republican students-David Horowitz actually was doing a series of speaking engagements-and they were very hostile and really condescending, and really insulting to a very extreme level, and I was shocked. They never looked at me as somebody who lived under Shari’a, who lived in the Muslim world for thirty years. They never even cared to understand my viewpoint. It was all, like, mass hysteria against anybody who dares to criticize Islam."

Q. You spoke at UCLA and I attended, and there was an organized demonstration led by [someone from MPAC] which consisted of a walkout. When you spoke, everyone stood up and yelled, "Shame on you."

A." I encounter that all the time, and frankly, right after 9/11 people were hungry for knowing more about why there was terrorism and Islam and why they hate us. I used to speak five and six times a semester, every semester, on college campuses. But the movement against any critique of Islam became so strong that now I'd be lucky to speak one time a semester."

Q. General Mattis and Sebastian Gorka are two of President Trump's closest advisors vis-a-vis Islamic matters, yet both of them appear to be deficient in their total understanding of Islam. They believe in distinguishing between what they term "extreme Islam" and "moderate Islam." You don't believe that this is a valid distinction. If you could speak to President Trump, what would you advise him with regards to these two gentlemen?

A. "Well, the terms "radical Islam" and "moderate Islam" are really terms that have been coined in the West, so that the West is not accused of generalizing about all Muslims. We all grew up with this distinction between moderate Islam and radical Islam, but anybody who comes from the Middle East knows there's no radical Qur’an and moderate Qur’an, there's no radical jihad and moderate jihad. I would advise him that we are in a war with the ideology of Islam, and the ideology is not peaceful. It's very important to make the distinction that we are not in a war with people, we are in a war with ideology, and we must never be ashamed of fighting an ideology that has no respect for human rights and women's rights. We must never apologize for fighting radical Islam, political Islam, and jihadist Islam. Jihad has never been a religion. It is a concrete ideology of man and people, and enslaving them to Shari’a, making them submit to Shari’a. And we should never apologize for deserving our freedom and way of life, and we should make that very clear to people in the Muslim world, and to leaders."

Q. When you first came to America, you were still a Muslim and you were part of a modern congregation, then your transformation began. Were there other Muslims who you felt were in the same situation as you? Did you sense that they wished to leave Islam behind, but were held in place by pressures they could not fight, or would not fight?

A. "The majority really came here to live under American values, but quickly-unfortunately-the mosques here caught many of them before they discovered their new freedoms under the American system. This is what the West should understand-many of them come here wanting to assimilate, and then suddenly we go to the mosques, and they tell us, "Don't assimilate." A few people end up saved from the jaws of the threat. When I started being scared of going to mosques anymore, because the message was, "Don't assimilate," that's when I got ostracized. Very few people that I know were able to extract themselves from this community, very few people, because they have a strong power and influence over the community. Now, for a person like me, I don't have any friends who are truly Muslim. I have people who call themselves Muslim, but they are totally non-practicing."

Q. Hypothetically, if I wanted to join a congregation that shared my views on Islam, it would more likely be an evangelical Christian congregation rather than a Catholic or a Jewish one. They seem to get it about Islam. In your view, what role do evangelical congregations have to play in alerting Americans about Islam?

A. "Unfortunately, whether Jewish or Christians, most of the congregations that I see they don't want to be in a war with Islam, maybe because of the violent aspect of Islam. They don't want to be the target of that. You'd think that many of them would like to invite me to speak - I do have a lot of fans that are Christians, but as an organized religion, not a lot of them want to challenge Islam. It's almost black and white: You're dealing with a religion that doesn't believe in forgiveness. In fact, it's against the law of Islam to forgive Jews and Christians. They are the target of jihad, they are called enemies of Allah under Islam. You can speak to them with love - I don't want to insult Muslims. I don't think there is enough support for middle east Christians who are being persecuted right now…and killed. Very few people [talk about] what's happening to Christians in the Middle East."

Q. Could you elaborate on whether or not you believe it possible for a person to be a devout Muslim and a patriotic American?

A. "I couldn't do it, because if you really understand the values of Islam and what it is all about, you can never accept to live under any legal system that is not Shari’a, you can never accept to live under a leader who is not a Muslim. So Muslims who tell you that they can be both a good Muslim at the same time as a good American who loves the constitution, maybe in their minds they're imaging an Islam that doesn't exist....What is misunderstood by the West is that the ultimate goal of Islam is to control government. It's not to [win the] hearts and minds of people. Muslims don't go and live with the poor of the world, like missionaries. When Islam conquers a nation, its goal is to conquer the government and force Shari’a onto people. Islam in many ways is attractive to leaders and the legal systems it wants to control."

©2017 Cheryl Gatesworth. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.