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December 30, 2009

Rundown on the Silencing of Darwish at Princeton

A few weeks after Nonie Darwish, Egyptian, former Muslim and founder of Arabs for Israel, was prevented from speaking at Princeton University, Princeton's Conservative paper, The Princeton Tory, published a piece detailing what caused the last minute cancellation of Darwish's lecture.

Imam Sohaib Sultan, Muslim Life Coordinator and Chaplain at Princeton University, took offense at quotes he attributed to Nonie Darwish and felt she attacked all of Islam in her presentations. Comparing Darwish to a "neo-Nazi," Sultan called on the sponsors to reexamine the invitation, and they did.

Writing in the Tory, Aaron Smargon ’11 observed:

Sadly, if only [those opposed to Darwish's appearance at Princeton] had listened to even twenty seconds of Nonie Darwish's prepared speech, they may have learned something: "I want to stress that I am not here to offend the good and peace-loving Muslims; but I am speaking out and trying to expose horrific human rights violations in Muslim countries, allowed under Sharia law. How can we ignore suppression of freedoms of speech and religion, and the demonizing of whole groups of people such as Jews and Christians in the Middle East?"

A Nov. 23, 2009 letter to the Daily Princetonian, co-authored by CAMERA's Aviva Slomich, defended Nonie Darwish's right to speak on campus:

Regarding “Egyptian activist’s invitation withdrawn” (Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009):

Princeton University, with its tradition of “free inquiry” and “free expression” (from University handbook “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities” 2008) is the last place we would have expected a guest speaker to be muzzled because of what she might say. The University’s own handbook cites the benefit of exposing students to diverse viewpoints and allowing them to learn from a broad range of human experiences. Students are encouraged to question, critique, challenge and grow in the pursuit of truth.

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, like Princeton, believes students, along with all Americans, deserve access to the full facts about such crucial issues as those related to the Middle East. For this reason we sponsored Nonie Darwish’s speech which includes facts about the serious problem of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-Christian hate indoctrination in Arab schools and mosques­— a phenomenon she describes from first-hand experience as a Muslim raised in Egypt and educated in its religious schools. She provides a unique perspective on this very troubling topic, one that is not often presented in the Western media.

In the speech Ms. Darwish was to have delivered at Princeton, she explicitly avoided criticism of all Muslims as a group and individual Muslims’ “relationship with God.” She dealt with political Islam as it relates to human rights — and women’s rights especially. Had she been allowed to speak, those who disagreed with her might have had the opportunity to question, challenge or debate her. Unfortunately, students were denied that opportunity when the student organization, Tigers for Israel, decided at the very last minute to withdraw their sponsorship, forcing the event’s cancellation.

Ms. Darwish has spoken freely at scores, if not hundreds, of university campuses about her experience with hate indoctrination in the Arab world and its damaging effects on the minds and beliefs of people. While there have been students at some meetings who challenged her, they did not deny her the right to present her point of view. But, in one case, at Brown University when support for her appearance was withdrawn, the university itself then invited her back, lest there be any doubt where the institution stood with regard to defending free speech. Brown should be a model for Princeton and Nonie Darwish should be invited by the University to affirm that principle.

Legacy Heritage CAMERA Fellow Rafael Grinberg will again try to bring Nonie Darwish to Princeton University in late February.

-- By AS

Posted by TS at December 30, 2009 07:45 AM

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