University of New Mexico Occupiers' War on Free Speech

How an Israel-hating mob tried to silence me.

Editor's note: View Nonie Darwish's entire University of New Mexico lecture, including its disruption, here.

In response to the resurgence of anti-Israel activities by the Arab Student Association and their left-wing anti-Israel “un-Occupy” backers, I was asked to speak at the University of New Mexico on February 23rd by the Israel Alliance group. The title of my speech was “The Dark Side Of Revolutions In The Middle East and The Implications For Israel,” which is the subtitle of my new book, “Devil We Don’t Know.”

Even though the Arab students were having an “apartheid wall” and a stop Islamophobia event on March 2nd, together with the local mosque, they urged the Israel Alliance group to dis-invite me because, as they put it, I am an Islam hater and Islamophobe. They presented them with a video of myself that was highly edited in which I spoke in a rally on the honor-killing of a woman in Florida, and I dared to blame Islamic law for the horrific murder of thousands of women annually. They did not succeed in dis-inviting me.

As I was almost half way in my presentation, I heard yelling and screaming in the back of the hall from about 8 or 10 students saying: “Mic check, Nonie Darwish speaks for Israeli Apartheid,” “Genocide at the hands of the IDF,” “Islam is not a religion of violence,” “Israel is the violent nation,” “The Arab Spring is here.”

A few people from the audience went to escort them out of the hall, but they refused to leave in defiance. As I was watching from the stage where I had an elevated view, I saw an older gentlemen trying to escort a female student, who refused to move and was reading chants from a paper. As he tried to take the paper, I saw her elbow move towards the older man, and he pushed her away, but no one fell or was hurt.

The occupiers did everything to intimidate my sponsors to dis-invite me, then protested outside the hall, and when that did not work, they screamed and yelled to silence me in the middle of my lecture. Pro-Israel advocates and critics of Islam and Sharia practically no longer exist on US college campuses, which only allow anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American activities throughout the school year.

After the incident, the protesters claimed that I said that Islam is violent, when that was not the topic I discussed, nor did I make statements to that effect. I specifically started my speech by saying: “I want to emphasize that I am not hear to talk about people, groups, or to offend good and peace-loving Muslims. I am here to speak about an ideology and a legal system that is the official law in about 54 Muslim countries. I think we can all agree that in America, no ideology, secular or religious, is beyond questioning. The day America shies from freedom of speech is the day freedom ends for everyone. Most people, including myself, don’t want or care to criticize any religion, let alone the religion I was born in, in the sense that it is a personal relationship with God. But, if religion expands itself to become a one party totalitarian State with an elaborate legal system to control every aspect of the life, and that has a military institution called jihad, which violates other nations, then that religion is no longer a private matter or immune to criticism. By assuming the role of government, religion has opened itself to criticism.”

The “occupiers” accomplished their loud and dramatic confrontation, then they had the audacity to file a police report for assault by the older gentlemen, but no one has been charged so far. The local Eyewitness News KOB 4 gave a biased report that students were attacked on the campus of UNM, and a Muslim student complained she was getting a death threat. However, other media outlets were more careful in reporting the true story when public opinion quickly turned against the “occupiers.”

If the "occupiers" were truly serious about challenging my opinion, they could have waited for the Q and A after my presentation and proved me wrong. Welcome to the West Bank and Gaza culture on our university campuses.

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