I decided to read this book based in the fact that I was impressed by the author when I saw her interviewed. Generally speaking, this book and its message are somewhat right wing for my liking and beliefs. However, I was taken by the fact that Darwish is the daughter of an Egyptian military man who was killed by the Israelis while serving in Gaza and despite this she has the courage to speak out against her country and her religion. It was this that drove me to read her story.
On one level, this is an outstanding book for anyone in the west who is not well educated about Islam and the position of women in Islamic countries. The book is lucid, clearly written and very accessible. The writer is western educated and therefore has a good understanding of her audience and their expectations of this type of text.
However, while Darwish presents a fantastic overview of Islam and its fundamentalist elements, for me it seemed that often her message was being too severely rammed down the reader’s throat, too overtly pushed. I resented this intrusion into what was otherwise a fascinating book. Her message is far too clear and unnecessarily repeated or over emphasized. While I realize that this might simply be a consequence of Darwish’s emotional conviction, I found that it was not only distracting, but was quite simply irritating.
Of more interest to me was Darwish’s own personal narrative and journey. She uses this as a vehicle to present her message that Islam is bad, too extreme and that Islamists are out to conquer the world. It is unfortunate that her story is used as a weapon in this context, that it is disguised in this way, for it is fascinating and well worth exploring further. Certainly, one can agree with her message and indeed, many of the facts that she presents about life in America are alarming; however, this does not detract from the very essence of Darwish’s intense sadness at her father’s death, her mother’s isolation and the descent of her homeland into fundamentalist Islamic fervour. I wanted to read more about these latter elements, rather than be further bashed over the head with the notion that Islam is evil and that Muslims are terrorists.
As an aside, I do have a relatively strong background in Islam and the position of women in that religion so it’s highly likely that this is behind my sentiment of feeling irritated by this text. Perhaps others with a lesser exposure to these issues will feel less harangued?
I do, nonetheless, recommend the read and further, I encourage you all to support Darwish in her quest to stand up and speak out against the clear injustices perpetuated by certain interpretations of Islamic Sharia law. In this regard, Darwish is an incredibly brave women and it is unfortunate that there are not more people out there just like her.
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Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror