27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Awesome autobiography and cultural analysis,
This review is from: Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror (Hardcover)
Now They Call Me Infidel is a gripping narrative of the author's journey from the upper echelons of Egyptian society to a staunch defender of the West. Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel, the book is part autobiography and part analysis of a severely dysfunctional culture. Unlike Ayaan, Darwish is not against the Muslim religion per se, focusing mainly on the destructive aspects of polygamy. This primitive practice harms women, men, the family and ultimately the whole culture.
She further examines the nature of modern Arab society showing how the ruling classes exploit religion in order to advance their oppressive agendas. Darwish confirms the existence of the pervasive Antisemitism that Hirsi Ali observed as a child in places like Saudi-Arabia. For examples of the Anti-Jewish hatred in the mainstream Arab press, please consult Peace: The Arabian Caricature of Anti-Semitic Imagery by Arieh Stav.
On a 2001 visit to Egypt, she noticed the illiteracy, anger and unemployment amongst ordinary people. They blame all of these problems on Israel, obviously brainwashed by the Egyptian media. There is a lack of self-criticism in Arab culture - a taboo against criticizing the family, religion or their leaders. But there's no denying that the constant drumbeat of propaganda against Israel and the USA emanates from, and has totally corrupted the educated segments of Egyptian society.
Observing how many Muslim immigrants do not appreciate Western values, the author warms against radicalism on campus and in mosques funded by petrodollars. Long ago she became aware of the two-faced behavior of Islamist radicals in the West: they speak soothing words to the clueless Western mass media whilst spewing forth hatred in their sermons and the Arab media. To Darwish, the terrorists are pirates who are intent on robbing Western democracies of their soul. She dismisses the misleading portrayal of Jihad as a "personal spiritual struggle," stating bluntly that it has always meant a religious holy war against non-Muslims.
There are many beautiful moments in the book, like her account of experiencing Christian worship for the first time, and her moving description of a visit to Israel and how it altered her perception of that brave little country. And this is the most important message of the book; for Nonie, the most valuable reward of moving to the USA was religious freedom and learning to love: "I had turned from a culture of hatred to one of love." May she be blessed.
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