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Authors: Nonie Darwish

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On March 17, 2011, I wrote an article titled “Former Muslims Excluded from King Hearings,” in which I expressed my disappointment that former Muslims were not represented in U.S. congressman Peter King's hearing, “Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community's Response.” A long list of people testified on both sides of the issue; many of them were Muslims who took opposing points of view.

Former Muslims could have illuminated a side of radical Islam in the United States that is a threat to our national security and that none of the guests at the hearing were able—or willing—to discuss. We former Muslims all share similar personal experiences of why we left Islam and why we moved to the United States. We had similar reactions to what went on in the mosques that drove us to leave and never return. We made similar choices: either to continue supporting Islam or to love America and its Constitution. We have similar knowledge of how certain terror groups, such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, are openly supported as legitimate and how excuses are given for bin Laden's terrorist acts. We were given similar advice on how not to assimilate in America and how to make Islam the law of the land. Finally, we came to similar conclusions about how mosques advocate sharia, anti-Semitism, jihad, and an “us against them” mentality in order to reject American values.

Muslim groups and the mainstream media rose up in arms against the King hearings, claiming that they were biased against one group, Muslims, and thereby violated the civil rights of Muslims. The Muslim groups that claim they are victims of the bigoted King hearings are the same groups that refused to sign the pledge that Former Muslims United repeatedly sent to them, seeking their support against the sharia commandment to execute apostates. They are also the same Islamic groups that attacked Rifqa Bary, the seventeen-year-old girl who, when she escaped from her family, was threatened for leaving Islam. Muslim groups supported her parents, spread hateful rumors about the girl, and provided the family with legal help to fight the girl in court.

It is preposterous for Muslim groups to deny, as they do, that there are good reasons for holding hearings on radical Islam and to claim that their civil rights are being violated. Their claims cannot pass the “laugh test” when they are the ones who violate the religious freedom of former Muslims. Pressure from Islamic groups is probably the reason the King hearings did not include any former Muslims.

In another instance, former Muslims were not excluded from a government hearing. On April 8, 2011, I was pleased to participate in a set of hearings on homeland security in the New York State Senate. In response to a question by Chairman Greg Ball (R-Putnam), I described how, as a youngster, I and other Muslim children were indoctrinated into hatred of the West, specifically the United States and Israel, and into jihad and martyrdom. Suddenly, I was interrupted by state senator Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn), who held up a copy of the Koran and asked me with contempt, “Are you saying that this book teaches hate?” Then he looked at the chairman and said, “This is offending this hearing by having her here.” Adams declared, “This is not our enemy. . . . You're bringing hate, hate and poison, into a diverse country.” The chairman then instructed Adams to pipe down and suggested that he was playing to the TV cameras. I was able to squeeze in some words to Senator Adams, telling him that the book he was defending allows slavery, sexual slavery, the beating of women, and violent jihad. I am not sure whether he heard me or even cared to know.

Unfortunately, Thomas Kaplan, in an article in the
New York Times
, described the hearings as a debate on whether “Muslims are predisposed to terrorism.”
That is not accurate. Kaplan added that I and another speaker have “advanced” that claim, the other speaker being Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy. Yet he was not able to quote me saying anything even close to an assertion that Muslims are predisposed to terrorism. That was never the topic of the debate, I was never asked that question, and I never said anything to insinuate this. I have always believed that Muslims are the primary victims of sharia, and I have a lot of sympathy toward the oppressed peoples of the Middle East. My degree is in sociology and anthropology, and it is inconceivable that I would make as reckless a comment as Mr. Kaplan claimed. My criticism is always aimed at the ideology of political and legal Islam and not at the people. I always emphasize that there are good and bad people in every religion, but that I have the right to speak against a religion that condemns me and many others to death.

Kaplan concluded the article with a claim that the technical part of the discussion on terror in New York City subways and airports was boring, as witnessed by the fact that at least three people in the audience were asleep. Even though it is common for a few people to fall asleep in most long hearings and conferences, the mainstream media take notice only when it happens during an event they describe negatively. This article reflects the views of many in the mainstream media who ridicule serious discussions about protecting ourselves from Islamic terrorism and, worse, call them an attack on all Muslims. All of which should end the conversation.

I am, of course, aware of the enormity and complexity of the Islamic threat and how the West must play some games as well and handle such explosive topics very carefully. Yet the West does not have to go out of its way to sound apologetic to Muslims or to embrace and befriend the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization that is losing credibility among the reformists who sparked the revolution in Egypt. The Brotherhood has always been a destabilizing factor that caused coups, assassinations, and assassination attempts in every administration in Egypt since its establishment eighty years ago. The Brotherhood has given birth to or inspired many other Islamist groups across the Middle East, including al Qaeda itself.

With today's alternative media, the United States has the ability to reach the Arab street and convince Arabs of its position. By telling the truth about the threat of radical Islam, America should have nothing to fear if it defines its enemy properly and understands that it is much more than al Qaeda—that the enemy is legal Islam embodied in oppressive sharia, political Islam bent on establishing a one-party Islamic state, and the institution of violent jihad that uses terrorism as a solution. These are all legitimate threats to our way of life, and we should never shy away from clearly articulating them. The truth is that these threats are also threats to Muslim reformers, and the issues are the very ones that many Muslim countries are struggling with. These threats make up the same enemy the pro-democracy advocates who started the Arab Spring were rebelling against, but the Islamists are now twisting their arms. How can the United States say it is on the side of reformers but act as if it is on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood? Where is America's credibility?

If the United States openly puts forth its objections and asserts its unequivocal right to protect its way of life, it will be more respected in the Arab world, and this will also empower the reformists. Such a unified stand by Americans would be much more powerful than attacking terrorists in their holes in Afghanistan. The United States should never be worried about being viewed as anti-Islam if it clearly defines its position. Muslims should understand and perhaps even identify with America's deep concerns, because Muslims can see that all religions, whether it be Buddhism, Hinduism, or the many sects of Judaism and Christianity, live in peace in America. Why should the U.S. government, with all of the problems it faces, pick on Islam alone, especially when many Muslim countries have the oil that the West needs? America did not declare war on Islam; radical Islam and its secret supporters declared war on America, and Muslims know it. The game that radical Islam plays is an old trick—crying the loudest, claiming to be a victim, so that no one can figure out its true objectives.

Islam's critics, myself included, will not be deterred by name calling and will always assert our First Amendment rights. We will not fall into the Stockholm syndrome trap. Our goal is not to criticize any religion capriciously, especially a religion such as Islam, which prides itself on taking vengeance with its sword. Our goal is to expose an evil ideology. If a religion expands to become a totalitarian state that gives itself the right to commit violence against others, then it would be insane to stay silent. Tyranny should never be a religious right, and that is why all freedom-loving people must speak out. Unlike the appeasers, we are stronger on the basis of our moral values.

Yet the United States and Western culture have been caught unprepared by the Islamic agenda at a vulnerable stage in Western history, just as the Byzantine and Persian empires were in the seventh century. Hopefully, ours will be a better ending. To facilitate this, specific political and cultural vulnerabilities in the West vis-à-vis Islam must be addressed.

The first vulnerability the West faces is political. Islam does not believe it can survive without sharia, and obedience to sharia cannot be achieved without government enforcement. Thus, government is everything to Islam; it is the ultimate method of preserving Islam. That is the main reason Islam always aims to penetrate the governments of every country where Muslims live. Government to Islam is like water to fish and air to humans. Anyone who watches and listens to Islamic preaching will quickly realize this fact. The bottom line and the ultimate goal of Muslim groups in the United States are to penetrate the U.S. government. That is how the groups' success is measured by the people who finance and support them. When the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, was elected, cries of “Allahu Akbar” (the call of Islamic triumph) were heard in the audience.

This is not an isolated instance. There is a Muslim group that gathers annually in Washington, D.C., to pray over the anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, an open enemy of the United States and a sharia advocate. A young Muslim woman at a recent event said, “Not only did he start, you know, the Islamic revolution in Iran, but . . . all Muslims now. . . celebrate the revolution of Iran as an Islamic uprising.”
In her broken English, what this woman meant was that the Arab Spring was in fact an Islamic revolution following the example of Iran. The Muslims in these gatherings are U.S. citizens who would like to see sharia replace the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. government has adopted a policy of outreach to the Muslim community, especially after 9/11. What the United States considers outreach, however, the Islamists consider an opportunity. At our invitation, Islam has made itself very comfortable inserting itself into U.S. politics. President Obama in particular has bent over backward to eliminate the words
, or
in reference to what is clearly Islamic terrorism and has hired devout Muslims to assist him in his outreach to Muslims both inside and outside the United States.

In addition, in 2009 President Obama gave legitimacy to the sharia lovers when he chose to speak at the campus of the Islamic Al Azhar University in Cairo, the guardian of sharia, to address the so-called Muslim World. His audience was composed largely of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and/or their supporters, while the president of Egypt, whom the Muslim Brotherhood had attempted to assassinate, was not in attendance. From my perspective, the speech was one of appeasement to the culture that produced Mohammed Attah, the leader of the 9/11 terrorists.

If the purpose of the Obama speech was to make Muslims love Obama, it certainly has accomplished its goal. Yet in attaining that goal, Obama allowed several inaccuracies into his speech, such as this one: “Islam has always been a part of America's story,” and “throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.” He also made the following exaggerations: “Since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they've excelled in our sports arenas, they've won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch.”
These are the kind of exaggerations and inaccuracies that Muslims live for. To justify jihad in America, some Muslims actually say that the word
originates from the word
and that Christopher Columbus could not have discovered America without Muslim help. Muslims are desperate to justify their eagerness to conquer America, and Obama's appeasement gratified jihadists' aspirations. These comments were written for Obama by his Islamic adviser at the time, Dalia Mogahed, the devout, Egyptian-born, head-covered Muslim, who is also a Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas sympathizer.

Obama said, “I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
Obama failed to take the opportunity to remind Muslims that freedom is a basic right in the United States, and that it is not the responsibility of Western governments to silence criticism of any religion, ideology, or person of power, even criticism of the president of the United States himself. As a consequence, many Egyptians believe that criticism of Islam in America will be made illegal or will be patrolled by the U.S. government.

Obama also left an impression that the reason Jews are in Israel is because of their persecution in Europe. He said, “The Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.” That plays into the hands of many Muslims, who believe that the only reason Jews came to Israel was because they were chased out of Europe.

In his Cairo speech, Obama also defended Muslims' right to pay
alms when he said, “I'm committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill
.” Obama's advisers failed to tell him that sharia dictates that about 20 percent of zakat must go to the jihadist fighters, and that is why much of the funds that Islamist groups in the United States collected for the purpose of zakat have gone to organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. That statement left an impression on Muslims that the U.S. president was more concerned with appeasement than accuracy.

BOOK: The Devil We Don't Know
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