ACT! for America of Middle Tennessee has announced acclaimed speaker and author Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-American human rights activist, will visit Nashville this month to discuss homosexuality in the Islamic culture.

Darwish is slated to appear at Nashville's New Hope Community Church Tuesday, Oct. 18. The event, which is free to the public, begins at 7 p.m. Registration is required for admission.

Darwish, founder of, was born and raised as a Muslim in Cairo, Egypt and the Gaza strip. She has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology/Anthropology from the American University in Cairo, and was a journalist and editor at the Middle East News Agency.

These topics are part of a personal journey for Darwish, whose father headed the Egyptian military intelligence in Gaza and the Sinai in the Fifties when Gaza was under Egyptian control. He was killed in Gaza in a targeted assassination in 1956 when she was just 8 years old.

Darwish has turned that private pain into a public mission, informing and educating people about the tenuous position of minorities in the Middle East. She discusses the Islamic culture and its attitudes towards homosexuality with Out & About Newspaper.

Slowly but surely more people are challenging long-held views about women and homosexuality in that part of the world. What is the current state of affairs in your mind?

Sharia law is the law that all Muslims must live under and is the official law in over 45 Muslim countries including Egypt. In regards to gay people it is no secret that even though homosexuality is practiced in the Muslim world, it's severely punished legally both by the government and what is worse is that the religion delegates the punishment to be done trough vigilante street justice against people who commit certain sexual sins such as sex outside of marriage, where usually it is the woman that is punished or any rumor that a person is gay.
Islam does not just call it sin and end it at that, but in Egypt many young men were put in a cage inside the court, humiliated and condemned as sinners with the death penalty over their heads. The literature is plenty as to what happens to anyone cause in a sexual crime, whether it is women or gays.

To make it clear for those unaware of these issues, what are the consequences of being defiant against the current regime and in what ways are people speaking out?

The Arab Spring (Editor's note: Arab Spring is a wave of demonstrations and protests that began in December of 2010) did not bring the freedom and democracy that many young men who protested wished for. Unfortunately they are the minority in Egypt, where the illiteracy rate is over 50%. In a recent poll, over 75% of Egyptians said they wish to live under Sharia law, which is against freedom of speech, thought, religion, sexual freedoms, and discrimination in the application of law on the basis of gender and religious affiliation, where non-Muslims live as second class citizens.

What can we as Americans do to advance progress concerning these issues?

America is divided in their views about the threat of radical Islam, Sharia law and religious tyranny. America today has the attitude that all religions are equal and their ideologies are the same, when in fact that is not true. Islam condemns to death many people today because they left Islam. There is an Iranian man who left Islam and became a Christian pastor, and he is currently held in jail in Iran awaiting a death sentence for the crime of apostasy. Americans should understand that Sharia law does not allow separation of church and state and Islamic sheikhs are issuing fatwas of death right and left. America needs to understand that such tyranny is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

Darwish is the author of two books: Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror and Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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