The Georgetown University College Republicans came under fire this week for inviting advocacy group Former Muslims United Director Nonie Darwish, who some critics have called Islamophobic, to speak on campus Tuesday evening.
Darwish promoted her new book, “Wholly Different,” which explores the differences between Christian and Islamic values, at the event.
Darwish, an Egyptian-born American, is head of the Former Muslims United, which seeks to protect former Muslims from persecution, and founder of pro-Israel advocacy group Arabs for Israel.
During her speech, Darwish strongly criticized Islamic values.
“Under Islam, the values of Islam, number one is jihad, everyone is sacrificed for jihad, the man has to die for jihad, the woman has to be oppressed,” Darwish said. “Because her role — number one — is to support jihad and to even ask her husband to become a jihadist. That is a good wife under Islamic law.”
Georgetown’s Bridge Initiative hosted an alternative event starting a half hour before the Darwish talk titled ‘Muslim Responses to Islamaphobia with Wajahat Ali.’ Ali is an Al Jazeera journalist and State Department official.
Darwish’s comments invoked a strong reaction from some members of the audience. On several occasions, GUCR moderators asked shouting audience members to quiet down and allow Darwish to speak.
The controversy over the event has been picked up by several right-leaning publications, including The Daily Caller and the Washington Examiner. According to the Washington Examiner, students shouted pro-Muslim slurs to Darwish at the event and she had to be escorted in and out by security.
According to Georgetown University College Republicans President Allie Williams (SFS ’19), the Examiner’s account is inaccurate. Williams said Darwish took questions from emotional and, at times, belligerent audience members, and there were occasional shouts, but there were no large protests and the event was largely civil.
“I don’t think they were protesters, they were just students who were challenging her,” Williams said. “That was the reason of the event.”
Williams also said there was a large police presence of over Georgetown University Police Department officers, most in plain clothes, due to the controversial nature of the speaker at the public event. However, she said the event went without incident and Darwish was only escorted off campus as a standard precautionary procedure.
“She had a book signing at the end,” Williams said. “There was no issue with her leaving or anything like that. At no point was I worried about anything happening to her or her safety.”
The day before the event, former GUCR Executive Board member Javon Price (COL ’20) resigned his position, writing in a Facebook post that he was motivated to do so by the Darwish event.
“As not only Republicans, but moral human beings, capable of both empathy and compassion, we should also fight against proponents of hate speech,” Price wrote. “With the invitation and sponsorship of event highlighting Nonie Darwish and her hate-filled book, we are giving a platform to a dangerous and toxic ideology. I for one, reject and condemn any organization that hides behind the righteous principles of free speech.”
According to Williams, Price voted to maintain Darwish’s invitation before his resignation. Williams said the public nature of Price’s resignation is disappointing.
“I totally respect his choice to resign, but I don’t respect the way in which he publicly made a statement about us all being bigots,” Williams said. “I don’t appreciate the way in which he publicly tried to slander everyone.”
Williams defended the decision to invite Darwish, saying there is a “double standard” in the reaction to speakers that are invited to campus.
“We believe that she has a personal story and I believe she has every right to share that personal story on our campus so we gave her a platform to do that,” Williams said. “We’re a Republican organization, no matter who we bring there’s obviously going to be backlash.”
This post has been updated.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.