The September 11 terrorist attacks fifteen years ago forever changed the lives of many, including Nonie Darwish. The Egyptian-born former Muslim began her anti-Islam crusade in publishing and speaking after the World Trade Center towers fell, a calling that brought her to Laguna Woods Monday afternoon at the invitation of a newly formed chapter of ACT! for America.
A capacity crowd of about 120 mostly white-haired retirees gathered to hear Darwish speak at a Laguna Woods Village clubhouse. The local chapter of ACT! For America, noted by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim extremist national organization, rejoiced at landing their first big speaker. Darwish, who founded Arabs for Israel and and is Director for Former Muslims United, didn't disappoint, warning of the Muslim threat at every corner while trashing Islam all along the way.
"Muhammad killed, Muhammad stole, Muhammad had sex with children," Darwish said of Islam's central prophet (p.b.u.h). From there, she continued to hammer hard on the world's fastest growing religion, saying it shares little in common with Judaism and Christianity. The idea forms the core of Darwish's forthcoming Muslim-hating book, Holy Different.
The speaker noted she identified 63 differences in all between Islam and Biblical faiths, but only had time to hone in on a few key ones. "They use terror to spread Islam," Darwish said of Muslims while praising Christian missionary work. She summed up Christianity's hierarchy as "God, family and country," while claiming Islam elevated "jihad" above all else save for Allah. "Islam perverted human nature," Darwish continued, saying mothers boastfully gave their children over to Allah through jihadist terror attacks.
Darwish didn't stop stoking the flames of Islamophobia in her speech. Muslims are encouraged to lie, especially about "jihad" being anything other than a call to violence. So-called moderate Muslims exist, but give cover to the dark tenants of the creed, something Darwish copped to doing when a practicing Muslim. "I was in denial," Darwish told the crowd. "That was how we were trained." Unlike Christians who believe themselves to be "children of God," Muslims see themselves as slaves to Allah. "Islam is the only religion that kills people who leave it," Darwish said. "The only other organization who acts like that is the Mafia!" The old storks loved that bit the best, erupting in laughter.
When Darwish wasn't slamming the Koran in favor of the Bible, she steered into paranoid political conspiracies about shadowy Muslims in our midst. "It's going to be a hard job for the next president when the government is flooded with Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers," Darwish said. She viewed President Barack Obama's historic nomination of Abid Riaz Qureshi to serve as the nation's first Muslim-American federal judge with such suspicion.
Which brings us to the President himself. After Darwish finished her talk, audience members aired out questions they held in for more than an hour. "Is Obama a Muslim?" one woman asked. "I don't know what is in the heart of this man," Darwish responded, only to later suggest he didn't want to defeat ISIS like other Muslim leaders who feared being apostates under sharia law. Next up on the new Muslim McCarthyism list? Much maligned Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin! Darwish claimed to not know what was in her heart either, but speculated about Muslim Brotherhood sympathies.
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Things only took a turn for the more bizarre from there. "I have read that the head of the CIA, John Brennan, converted to Islam," another woman stated. "Obama appointed him for a reason," Darwish replied. Hell, the crowd even asked author about charter schools linked to Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. "Ah yes, the Turkish Muslims," the author responded. "Islam is penetrating our schools!" (Wait: was I at an ACT! for America event or one put on by the Anaheim Union High School District?)
The Laguna Woods event didn't stay an all-out Islam-bashing fest, alhamdulillah! This is a Bob Scheer-loving progressive retirement town, too, and a handful of folks mounted a comeback from the crowd. "You have to check your facts!" one woman blurted at Darwish out of turn. "This is not a place to argue!" an ACT! for America member panicked. "Oh, yes it is!" another woman yelled. "Shut up!" a man shouted back.
To Darwish's credit, she welcomed critical questions, but none really came after the tiny rebellion broke out from the clubhouse seats. Debates continued on about her anti-Muslim blabbering after folks left the event with a presidential election looming less than two months away. But kudos to the local ACT! for America chapter: you've now taken the local hate crown from the late, not-great California Coalition for Immigration Reform. Keep the kooky speakers comin'!