“Surpassing Shylock”   

By Nonie Darwish
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, October 06, 2008  

Arab feminists, reformers and intellectuals are intimidated, threatened or killed in the Middle East. Even the late Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was stabbed in Cairo in 1994 by a radical Muslim who claimed that Mahfouz insulted Islam.

Americans of Muslim Arab origin, like myself, who speak out against jihad, terrorism and anti-Semitism, also confront threats and shaming from those who want to silence us. This does not necessarily come from radical Islamist clerics, but often from highly educated Arabs working in prominent institutions of higher learning in the US.

On September 24th, and out of nowhere, I received an e-mail from Dr. Houria I. Hassouna, an Egyptian female professor at Michigan State University. The subject of her e-mail said: “A weight of carion flesh than to receive 3,000 ducats.” And she proceeded to describe me in the body of the email as: “You surpass the Shylock described by Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice.”

To those who are unfamiliar with the William Shakespeare play Merchant of Venice, Shylock played the character of a mean Jew who refused to forgo a pound of Antonio’s flesh which he has earned by an archaic law rooted in religion. Shylock rejected the offer of 6,000 ducats instead of the 3,000 that Antonio owed him so that he could revenge himself upon the Christian merchant.




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