Saturday, October 11, 2008

Obama Song Brings Back Memories

By Nonie Darwish

I was born and raised as a Muslim in the Middle East and lived for 30 years in oppressive dictatorships and police states. I remember the daily bombardment on Arab radio of praise and songs of adoration of the Egyptian dictator president Gamal Abdel Nasser. ‘Ya Gamal ya Habib Al Malayeen, ya Gamal,’ that is Arabic for Gamal beloved by millions and the song goes on to say, we are following you in your road and mission. Day in and day out songs like that was chanted by Egyptian singers who competed to please the dictator, while citizens were oppressed and jailed while the country moved from a multi party system to a one party socialist system. Nasser was the hope for change to bring about Arab unity, destroy Israel and stand up to Western interests.

But Nasser’s hope did unite the Arab world and did not destroy Israel, but brought Egypt to its knees after defeat by Israel. I remember Nasser’s fiery speeches while adoring crowds listened to him saying that he will throw the Jews in the Mediterranean. Instead of Arab unity, he ridiculed many Arab leaders who did not follow him and actually went to war against Yemen where he allowed the use of gas weapons against a brotherly Arab Muslim country. Nasser’s regime which had great hopes for bringing Arab greatness ended up bankrupting Egypt, impoverished its people and loosing the Sinai in irresponsible gamble with wars with Israel.

The way some Americans regard Obama brings back such memories of total adoration and blind hope for change. The media in the US is certainly not government controlled like the Arab media I grew up with, but it has failed the American public. It practices self-censorship when it comes to exposing the mistakes of Democrats or even criticizing radical Islam. It depicts all Republican leaders as dumb and stupid and its favorite target for ridicule is Sarah Palin.

When I saw and heard American kids singing for Obama, I felt a chill of fear. The scene reminded me of how, as children, we were forced to sing for the dictator. It is telling that liberals have exploited children in this manner -- and that the mainstream media has given them a pass.

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"Surpassing Shylock"

By Nonie Darwish

Arab feminists, reformers and intellectuals are intimidated, threatened or killed in the Middle East. Even the late Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was stabbed in Cairo in 1994 by a radical Muslim who claimed that Mahfouz insulted Islam.

Americans of Muslim Arab origin, like myself, who speak out against jihad, terrorism and anti-Semitism, also confront threats and shaming from those who want to silence us. This does not necessarily come from radical Islamist clerics, but often from highly educated Arabs working in prominent institutions of higher learning in the US.

On September 24th, and out of nowhere, I received an e-mail from Dr. Houria I. Hassouna, an Egyptian female professor at Michigan State University. The subject of her e-mail said: “A weight of carion flesh than to receive 3,000 ducats.” And she proceeded to describe me in the body of the email as: “You surpass the Shylock described by Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice.”

To those who are unfamiliar with the William Shakespeare play Merchant of Venice, Shylock played the character of a mean Jew who refused to forgo a pound of Antonio’s flesh which he has earned by an archaic law rooted in religion. Shylock rejected the offer of 6,000 ducats instead of the 3,000 that Antonio owed him so that he could revenge himself upon the Christian merchant.

What Dr. Hassouna was trying to tell me in her e-mail was that I am worse than a Jew. Muslim law agrees with her because a Muslim should never soften, forgive or befriend Jews. Being a former Muslim who runs a website called “,” I believe that the Jewish people are Middle Eastern people who contributed a lot to Middle East culture, society and religion, larger in proportion than the size of Israel. I also speak openly about the Jewish people’s rights to their own State, Israel, and its capital, Jerusalem.

Dr. Hassouna apparently never got over the hate and anti-Semitic propaganda that Muslim children are spoon-fed in the Middle East. She also does not believe that Arab Americans should be able to expose and criticize radical Islam and the culture that produce thousands upon thousands of men who are ready to kill others for the sake of the expansion of Islam around the world.

I remember the many films on Arab TV dehumanizing Jews and depicting them in the worst possible manner. Muslim kids were told that Jews were monsters who wanted to kill them. When you fill the heart of Muslim children with such propaganda, hatred comes easy and terrorism acceptable. Such films still exist on Egyptian TV and are watched by thousands right here in America through satellite dishes. The last film I saw was called “A Girl from Israel” where an Israeli family visiting the Sinai deceive, rape and kill Egyptian kids.

I do not receive a lot of hate mail, but when I do, the worst comes from University professors, especially from those of Middle East origin, like myself. Ms. Hassouna, like many so called “moderate Muslims,” reveals her deep-rooted anti-Semitism and, in spite of her migration to the US and getting a PHD from American Institutions of higher learning, she still could not shed this hate indoctrination or the taboo against self-criticism in Muslim scriptures. Some of the most anti-Semitic Muslims are non-practicing intellectual Muslims. Our college campuses are full of Middle East professors who came to study in the US, thanks to scholarships from Uncle Sam, but who are spreading the poison of hatred of the old culture and are trying to silence people like myself who are promoting respect, peace and understanding between Arabs and Jews.

There are many heavy-handed attempts to silence me and the few others who are committed to peace and exposing the root causes of jihad against Israel and the West. Such attempts are a symbol of the hateful past we lived under and they simply strengthen my commitment to promoting peace and forgiveness to a culture that has forgotten what living in peace truly means.

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