[The following is Phyllis Chesler's speech at Columbia last Wednesday for Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week]
It is an honor and a privilege to be here today. Talking about Islamo-fascism
and the violent Islamic oppression of Muslim women, Muslim intellectuals, and
Muslim homosexuals is exactly the right thing to do at this moment in history.
The western university campus is exactly the right place to do so since it is
the university that has been hijacked, Palestinianized, Stalinized, Edward
Said-ized, by a series of truly Great Lies.
It is time to take the campus back so that the rights of “free speech” and
“academic freedom” also apply to those who tell the truth about Islam and who
espouse minority and dissident intellectual points of view. Such rights also
belong to those of us who are pro-American and pro-Israel and not only to those
who demonize the West and valorize Islamist misogyny, death-cult terrorism, and
Wahabi and Salafi fundamentalism.
Telling the truth about Islam is, apparently, “provocative.” One risks
everything for doing so. In my opinion, one risks even more for failing to do
I want to thank the students at Columbia who have made this evening possible
as well as David Horowitz and the Horowitz Freedom Center which has organized
similar panels all over the country this week and has, in addition, published a
pamphlet which I co-authored together with Robert Spencer which is titled The
Violent Oppression of Women in Islam.
It is both extraordinary and tragic that one needs serious security in order
to be heard on campus, that one must run a gauntlet of hostility for the right
to teach. Please note who needs the security and who does not. Who disrupts and
protests speeches and who does not. Goon-squad tactics of intimidation and
disruption should have absolutely no place in the free exchange of ideas. We
should exchange competing ideas civilly, with an open mind, and our ideas should
be based on facts and truth, not on propaganda.
I have spoken at Barnard and Columbia many times over the years. Long ago, in
the 1960s and 1970s, when I was a politically correct “rebel-girl,” I was more
than welcome here.
More recently, in 2003, my words about Islamic gender and religious Apartheid
caused a near-riot at a feminist conference at Barnard and I had to be hustled
out for my safety.
In 2006 or 2007, I was persona non grata at Barnard at a panel organized by
the Veteran Feminists of America. Although I am a founding member, my own group
would not allow me to speak about the Islamist War Against Women. Here’s
No western academic is supposed to criticize anything that a formerly
colonized man of color does—including gang-rape or stone women of color to
death. Nor can he or she focus on the savage persecution of homosexuals or on
the epidemic of homosexual pederasty in the Islamic world; or on the persecution
of heroic Muslim and ex-Muslim intellectuals and human rights activists.
Muslim-on-Muslim homicide and genocide are also “unmentionables.” Any western
academic who dares discuss such tabooed subjects will be defamed as a “racist”
and “colonialist.” Fear of this allegation is so great that false concerns about
racism have inevitably trumped all feminist concerns about sexism. This is the
new McCarthyism and it is coming to us from the left.
In the early 1960s, I was held captive in Kabul, Afghanistan, in fairly posh
purdah. I was a young bride. I escaped, I survived, I learned a thing or two. I
write about this in The Death of Feminism which describes Islamic gender
apartheid both way back then and now, as it is penetrating the West.
For example, I learned that what characterizes Islam (not Islamism) is mainly
indigenous to the culture, the region, and the religion and is not necessarily
caused by Western imperialism, colonialism, or capitalism.
The Christian crusades did not “cause” Arab or Muslim slavery, racism,
polygamy, arranged child marriage, female genital mutilation, honor murders,
forced face-veiling, capital punishment for apostates (Muslims who leave Islam),
or the segregation of women. It did not cause Islamic jihad or Islamic
imperialism which preceded the Crusades by centuries.
In the early 1970s, American imperialism and Israeli policies of self-defense
did not force Bangladeshi Muslims to murder their own women for the crime of
having been raped by enemy Muslim soldiers.
In the 1980s, when Iranian village mullahs ordered that women be lynched, the
villagers did not stone their daughters, mothers, and sisters because America
had, in the past, interfered with Iranian politics.
No American or European oil company ordered the men of Saudi Arabia to
prohibit Saudi women from driving, or from going out without a male escort, nor
did they order the be-heading of a Saudi Princess for daring to choose a love
No Israeli law forced Palestinians to honor-murder their women, beat their
wives and daughters, or to force-veil women against their will. Only Hamas did
My Second Wave feminist credentials are rooted in a universalist vision of
human rights. Because I believe that all women and men are equal, I am
therefore, not a multi-cultural relativist. I believe that all human beings
deserve certain unalienable rights, whether they live in Saudi Arabia,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, or in New York City.
I especially support such human rights for the most heroic of heroes today
who are fighting against Islamism in their own countries and who are themselves
Muslims, ex-Muslims, or Arab and Asian Christians. Their extraordinary heroism
is in sharp contrast to and puts the blindness and cowardice of our tenured
western radicals to shame.
Such secular and religious activists, influenced by western concepts of
democracy, freedom, human rights, and women’s rights, are now fighting for those
very rights in their own countries. They are being murdered, imprisoned,
tortured, and censored for daring to hold the ideas that we safely take for
granted in the West.
Fatwas (or death threats) have been issued against them. Some who live in
hiding require serious, round-the-clock protection. Some must write under
pseudonyms. Many such dissidents live in exile and simply cannot understand why
western multi-cultural relativists refuse to side with them and instead, side
with their persecutors.
Think: Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasrin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali for starters.
For daring to defend them I (and many others) are being censored in both
Europe and America, whose Islamification is well under way.
Western dissidents have also been sued for telling the truth about Islam and
about the Saudi and Islamic funding for terrorism against Western civilian
Think: Oriana Fallaci, Rachel Ehrenfeld.
Western feminists and pro-woman academics must understand that like women
everywhere, Arab and Muslim women have internalized their culture’s views of
women. Therefore, like men, some women will justify wife-beating, purdah,
polygamy, veiling, and female genital mutilation. Thus, just because Muslim
women can be trotted out to support Islamic Gender Apartheid, does not
necessarily mean that their words on such subjects are any more inviolate than
those of their male counterparts.
In America, in the 1960s, most women denied that they were economically
discriminated against or, if proven wrong, insisted that it did not bother them.
They blamed themselves entirely when they were sexually harassed, raped, or
beaten. Only years of education and struggle have begun to change these
attitudes among American women and men.
If Western feminists are not committed to the same struggle for Muslim, Arab,
and Third World women they have betrayed their own moral vision of equality for
all women and men.
Today, in Muslim countries, women are being more forcefully and fully veiled.
They are being imprisoned, gang-raped, flogged, and in Iran, often hung or
stoned to death when they allege rape or run away from unusually cruel and
life-threatening-families. Honor murders are either increasing or have become
more visible – perhaps because Western and Western influenced feminists and
human rights activists have begun to document them.
Recently, in the fall of 2006 (the end of Ramadan), perhaps a thousand men
conducted a ‘sexual wilding’ in Cairo. They surrounded individual girls and
women who were fully veiled, partly veiled, and unveiled, and groped and
assaulted them. Individuals tried to help these women – who escaped from the
male crowds naked and half-naked. The police refused to make any arrests and the
media did not cover it. I and others only learned of this incident because some
foreign journalists blogged it – and because one brave Egyptian woman spoke
about it on a live Egyptian television programme.
Pro-Islamists are perfectly free to criticize, even to demonize the West in
the West, because they live in a democracy where academic freedom and free
speech are (still) taken seriously. Were they to dare criticize the barbarism,
misogyny, and despotism of Third World countries, were they to do so in
Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Bangladesh or Saudi Arabia (to name only a few such
countries), they would be in serious danger of being shot to death in her own
home, as happened recently to an Afghan woman journalist, or of being
imprisoned, tortured, and murdered. This has happened to many Muslim dissidents
In 2003, Wajeha Al-Huwaider was barred from publishing in the Saudi Kingdom;
in 2006 she was arrested, interrogated, and forced to sign a statement agreeing
to cease her human rights activities.
Bangladeshi writer Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, had his office bombed, was
jailed for two years and is now on trial for his life. His crime? ‘Praising the
Jew and Christians’, ‘attempting to travel to Israel’, and ‘predicting the rise
of Islamist militancy’. These charges may carry a death sentence.
Women are not yet free from violence and inequality in America but really, we
do not face these conditions.
In The Death of Feminism, I also describe another incident which took place
in July 2001 in Hassi Messaoud, Algeria, in which a mob of three hundred men
conducted a three-day pogrom against thirty-nine economically impoverished
Algerian women. In his Friday sermons, the local mullah, Amar Taleb, had
described these women as ‘immoral’ because they were working for a foreign
company. The men tortured, stabbed, mutilated, gang-raped, buried alive and
murdered these women.
Feminists especially need to acknowledge that this is happening. We need to
wrestle with it and take a stand against it. We need to make common cause with
Third World and Muslim feminists and dissidents who want to create
Western feminists and academics must end their unnatural obsession with the
so-called “occupation” of Palestine and focus of the occupation of women’s
bodies throughout the Muslim world. If they care about women, they must confront
the issues that characterize Islamic gender apartheid and affect at least half a
billion women in the Islamic world.
Western feminist academics have now become allied with Islamists—against
Muslim and ex-Muslim women and against their own feminist principles. Now is the
time for western intellectuals who claim to be antiracists or committed to human
and women’s rights to stand with Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents. To do so,
requires that we adopt a universal standard of human rights and abandon our
loyalty to multicultural relativism which justifies, even romanticizes,
indigenous barbarism, totalitarian terrorism and the persecution of women,
religious minorities, homosexuals, and intellectuals.
Our abject refusal to judge between civilization and barbarism, and between
enlightened rationalism and theocratic fundamentalism endangers and condemns the
victims of Islamic tyranny even further.