Nonie Darwish (Arabic: نوني درويش‎; born Nahid Darwish, 1949)[1][2] is an American human rights activist and critic of Islam, and founder of Arabs for Israel, and is Director of Former Muslims United. She is the author of four books: Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror, Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law, The Devil We Don't Know: The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East, and Wholly Different: Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values. Darwish's speech topics cover human rights, with emphasis on women's rights and minority rights in the Middle East. Born in Egypt, Darwish is the daughter of an Egyptian Army lieutenant general, who was called a "shahid" by the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser,[3] after being killed in a targeted killing by the Israel Defense Forces in 1956. Darwish blames "the Middle Eastern Islamic culture and the propaganda of hatred taught to children from birth" for his death. In 1978, she moved with her husband to the United States, and converted to Christianity there. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, she has written on Islam-related topics.[3]

Nonie Darwish
Nonie Darwish 1.jpg
Nahid Darwish

1949 (age 70–71)[1][2]
EducationAmerican University in Cairo
OccupationWriter, public speaker, Founder & President of Arabs for Israel
WebsiteArabs for Israel,


Nonie Darwish was born in 1949 in Cairo, Egypt.[1][2][4] Her father, Colonel Mustafa Hafez, was paternally of Turkish ancestry.[5] In the 1950s her family moved to Gaza when her father was sent by Gamal Abdel Nasser to serve as commander of the Egyptian Army Intelligence in Gaza, which was under supervision of Egypt. Hafez founded the fedayeen who launched raids across Israel's southern border, that between 1951 and 1956, killed many Israelis, the majority civilians.[2][6] In July 1956 when Nonie was six years old, her father was killed by a mail bomb in an operation by the Israeli Defense Forces.[2][4][6] The assassination was a response to Fedayeen's attacks, making Darwish's father a shahid.[7][8] The assassination was planned by Yehoshafat Harkabi. During his speech announcing the nationalization of the Suez Canal, Nasser vowed that all of Egypt would take revenge for Hafez's death. Darwish claims that Nasser asked her and her siblings, "Which one of you will avenge your father's death by killing Jews?"[9]

Darwish explains:

I always blamed Israel for my father's death, because that's what I was taught. I never looked at why Israel killed my father. They killed my father because the fedayeen were killing Israelis. They killed my father because when I was growing up, we had to recite poetry pledging jihad against Israel. We would have tears in our eyes, pledging that we wanted to die. I speak to people who think there was no terrorism against Israel before the '67 war. How can they deny it? My father died in it."[10][11]

After the death of her father, her family moved back to Cairo, where she attended Catholic high school and then the American University in Cairo, earning a BA in Sociology/Anthropology. She then worked as an editor and translator for the Middle East News Agency, until emigrating to the United States in 1978 with her husband, ultimately receiving United States citizenship. After arriving in the US, she became a Christian and began attending a non-denominational evangelical church. About a year after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Darwish began writing columns critical of Islamic extremism and the silence of moderate Muslims.

Asked what can be done to encourage more moderate Muslims to speak out, Darwish answers:

After 9/11 very few Americans of Arab and Muslim origin spoke out ... Muslim groups in the U.S. try to silence us and intimidate American campuses who invite us to speak. I often tell Muslim students that Arab Americans who are speaking out against terrorism are not the problem, it's the terrorists who are giving Islam a bad name. And what the West must do is ask the politically incorrect questions and we Americans of Arab and Muslim origin owe them honest answers.[3]

Darwish is the current Director of Former Muslims United. In a letter sent from that organization to Muslim leaders, Darwish said:

We send this letter to you to be received by September 25, 2009. On that date 220 years ago in 1789, the U.S. Congress passed the Bill of Rights. This is a fitting date to put our pledge to the world ... As founders of Former Muslims United, we now pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to achieve for former Muslims their unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We claim these rights as the foundation for our right to freedom from Shariah. We urge you to join us.[12]

She says, "Just because I am pro- Israel does not mean I am anti- Arab, its just that my culture is in desperate need for reformation which must come from within".[11]

She has spoken on numerous college campuses including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Brown, Tufts, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Oxford, Cornell, UCLA, NYU, Virginia Tech, Pepperdine, UC Berkeley and several others. She has also spoken in the United States Congress, the House of Lords and the European Parliament.

Darwish denies that she is the author of an essay entitled "Joys of Muslim Women" circulating on the internet although she considers it accurate to a large extent.[13]

Views on IslamEdit

Darwish believes Islam is an authoritarian ideology that is attempting to impose on the world the norms of seventh-century culture of the Arabian Peninsula. She writes that Islam is a "sinister force" that must be resisted and contained. She remarks that it is hard to "comprehend that an entire religion and its culture believes God orders the killing of unbelievers." She claims that Islam and Sharia form a retrograde ideology that adds greatly to the world's stock of misery.[14]

She claims the Qur'an is a text that is "violent, incendiary, and disrespectful" and says that brutalization of women, the persecution of homosexuals, honor killings, the beheading of apostates and the stoning of adulterers come directly out of Islamic texts.[14]

In her book Now They Call Me Infidel, Darwish calls upon America to "get tougher", impose stricter immigration laws especially on Muslim and Arab immigrants, endorse assimilation, and stop "multiculturalism and cultural relativism". She has also called for non-Muslim Americans to be wary of interfaith marriages particularly those where Muslims marry Jewish or Christian women.[15]

Arabs for IsraelEdit

Darwish is a strong supporter of Israel, and has founded the group "Arabs for Israel",.[4][16] composed of ethnic Arabs and Muslims who respect and support the State of Israel, welcome a peaceful and diverse Middle East, reject suicide attacks as a form of Jihad, and promote constructive self-criticism and reform in the Arab/Muslim world.

Awards and recognitionEdit

Published worksEdit

  • Darwish, N (2006). Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror. Sentinel HC. ISBN 978-1-59523-031-7.
  • Darwish, N (2009). Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson. ISBN 978-1-59555-161-0.
  • Darwish, N (2012). The Devil We Don't Know: The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-13339-2.
  • Darwish, N (2017). Wholly Different: Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Faith. ISBN 978-1621575788. OCLC 945232390.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Friedman, Lisa (June 5, 2005). "Ex-Muslim calls on her people to reject hatred". Los Angeles Daily News (reproduced). Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e Langton, James (May 13, 2007). "Life as an Infidel". London: Guardian. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c "We Don't Like to Hear That Here; Nonie Darwish is censored here and abroad". National Review Online. November 20, 2006. Archived from the original on March 19, 2009. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c Blake Boldt, 'Nashville presentation focuses on homosexuality and the Islamic culture', in Out & About Newspaper, October 4, 2011 [1]
  5. ^ Darwish, Nonie (2006), Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror, Penguin Books, ISBN 1101217855, My father came from a large middle-class Egyptian family. Born in 1920, ... His father was of Turkish ancestry and his mother's family was rooted in the Egyptian delta.
  6. ^ a b Mehlman, Yossi. "Targeted killings – a retro fashion very much in vogue". Haaretz. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  7. ^ Langton, James (May 20, 2007). "The power of the pen, and the sword of Islam". The Age. Melbourne.
  8. ^ Gray, Alan "Mothers for Peace Challenge The Brainwashing of Middle East Children", News Blaze, February 16, 2006.
  9. ^ Interview with Daily Telegraph; "We were brought up to hate and we do." February 12, 2006
  10. ^ (March 27, 2007). "Call Me Infidel: An Ex-Muslim Speaks Out". CBN News. Archived from the original on 2009-02-23.
  11. ^ a b Nonie Darwish: Director Archived 2010-08-08 at the Wayback Machine, Former Muslims United.
  12. ^ Cover Letter & Pledge, Former Muslims United.
  13. ^ Urban legends
  14. ^ a b Keeney, Patrick (February 17, 2009). "Book Review: Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law by Nonie Darwish". National Post. Archived from the original on April 27, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  15. ^ Yaghi, Adam (18 December 2015). "Popular Testimonial Literature by American Cultural Conservatives of Arab or Muslim Descent: Narrating the Self, Translating (an)Other". Middle East Critique. 25 (1): 83–98. doi:10.1080/19436149.2015.1107996.
  16. ^ Diamond, Ilana (August 15, 2008). "It's lonely being pro-Israel on campus". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  17. ^ Press Release (April 22, 2008). "Nonie Darwish to Receive the "Woman of Exceptional Courage" Award at the First Annual Western Women's Summit". CBLPI. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2009.

External linksEdit