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Apr. 28, 2010

Vol. 110, No. 12

Notebook

For Darwish, a chance to talk

By Giri Nathan ’13
Published in the April 28, 2010, issue


Nonie Darwish
Beverly Schaefer
Nonie Darwish

Four months after an earlier invitation to appear on campus was withdrawn, author and activist Nonie Darwish sharply criticized traditional Islamic law in a March 24 lecture at Whig Hall.  

Darwish, who grew up Muslim in Egypt but has parted ways with Islam, told an audience of about 60 people that she seeks to criticize Islam’s “political and legal ideology” and not the religion itself or its adherents, which include her entire family.

Citing examples and dozens of laws, Darwish condemned Islamic law, or Sharia, saying that it discriminates against women and poses a “direct threat to the lives of non-Muslims.”

In a heated question-and-answer session that followed the talk, no question was posed without an impassioned interruption by either the speaker or an audience member. Saud Al-Thani ’12, president of the Muslim Students Association, criticized the address for “factual inconsistencies” and a focus on “laws that aren’t actually practiced in the Muslim world.”

Darwish’s appearance was sponsored by Whig-Clio and The Princeton Tory, along with an outside group, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA). In a statement, the two student groups described their “strong commitment to the free exchange of ideas” and said, “Darwish should be welcome to present her views at Princeton even when those views are controversial.”

Darwish previously was scheduled to speak at the University in November but one of the student sponsors, Tigers for Israel, rescinded its invitation. After that group withdrew, Whig-Clio’s president said that organization had no reason to sponsor the event on its own.
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CURRENT ISSUE: Apr. 28, 2010