The Gavel Chapter of Mortar Board and the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute will host author and human rights activist Nonie Darwish as the featured speaker during the 2010 PROBE Symposium on April 27 at 7:00 pm in the Twichell Auditorium located on the campus of Converse College. Free and open to the public, Darwish will speak about Women’s Rights in the Middle East and answer questions from attendees immediately following her speech. Doors open at 6:00 pm.
Born in Cairo, Egypt, and raised in the Muslim faith, Darwish is the daughter of the former head of Egyptian military intelligence in Gaza, Colonel Mustafa Hafez. In 1956, Hafez was killed by a mail bomb in an operation of the Israeli Defense Forces. Following his death, Darwish, who was eight-years-old at the time, moved with her family to Cairo where she attended Catholic high school. She went on to earn a BA in sociology/anthropology from the American University in Cairo.
After college, Darwish worked as an editor and translator for the Middle East News Agency. In 1978, she immigrated to the United States with her husband, and eventually became a U.S. citizen. Once in the U.S., Darwish converted from the Muslim faith to Christianity. It was after the attacks of September 11, 2001 that Darwish began to speak out against Islamic extremism and the silence of moderate Muslims. Darwish described the culture behind jihad and martyrdom in her biography entitled, Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror.
Katelyn Ridenour, PROBE Symposium Committee Chair Converse College, said it was Darwish’s personal experience and message that led the committee to choose her as its guest speaker. “I chose to host Ms. Darwish because I believe she has a unique perspective on the Middle East. In her biography, she provides a fascinating account of what it was like to grow up as a Muslim young woman. I believe her perspective will be useful for anyone who has an interest in the Middle East, and women’s rights in general.”
Founder of Arabs for Israel and Director of Former Muslims United, Darwish is an outspoken advocate for women’s rights in the Middle East. Her second book, Cruel and Usual, is a sociological analysis of the impact of Sharia Islamic Law on interpersonal relationships, female relationships, family and Muslim society. Bat Ye-Or, a Cairo-born British scholar, describes Darwish’s writing as something that “should be read by everyone and taught in schools…The free world owes Darwish an invaluable debt for her struggles for freedom.”
A frequent lecturer, Darwish has spoken at several college campuses including Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Yale, Oxford, UC Berkeley and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has also presented at The European Parliament, Capital Hill and the House of Lords.