Former Professor Explains Trump Vote, Views on Islamic Extremism

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On Wednesday evening, Asra Nomani spoke out against the intolerance she has experienced as a Muslim reformer at an event organized by The Georgetown Review and Georgetown Bipartisan Coalition.

Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and Georgetown professor, has been widely criticized in recent months for casting her vote for Donald Trump. Although Wednesday’s event was surrounded by controversy, the discussion itself was respectful with no disruptions from audience members.

To begin the discussion, moderator Jacques Berlinerblau, director of the Center for Jewish Civilization, asked Nomani to explain her vote for Donald Trump.

“I am a Muslim who has fought for the last fifteen years against the ideology of Islamic extremism,” Nomani said. “I was saddened that the Democratic Party has failed to call out the Islam in Islamic extremism, the Islam in the Islamic State.”

Throughout the discussion, Nomani was critical of the extremist elements within Islam. However, she acknowledged that extremism is not unique to Islam.

“Obviously, there are extremists of all faiths, all colors, all nationalities,” she said.

When asked to profile a typical Islamic extremist, Nomani did not entertain stereotypes. Rather, she stated that the only trait shared by Islamic terrorists is an ideology of Salafi jihadism.

“It is not, of course, every Muslim. That’s why I stand up. That’s why I speak . . . The battle is within our community to challenge these extremists.”


“Support those Muslims reformers who are challenging Islamic extremism because that shows the world that there’s hope,” she said. “We can’t use the idea of Islamophobia to shut down the conversation.”


For Nomani, Democrats’ fear of being labeled as Islamophobic has prevented them from applying liberal standards of equality and secularism to the Muslim community. It has also prevented American mosques from applying standards of gender equality.

“In Mecca, ironically, a woman can pray anywhere,” Nomani pointed out. “Literally a mile from here at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. on Massachusetts Avenue, I cannot walk through the front door to pray a Friday prayer. I have to go to a separate building down some steps and by the women’s restroom to pray in a dark room where we watch the imam preach to us on our TV sets.”

Nomani believes this level of gender inequality undermines the values that are at the foundation of her liberal and feminist worldview.

“I learned that separate is unequal. I learned a woman is equal to a man,” she said.

Tensions in the room rose when the conversation returned to Nomani’s support for Donald Trump. Audience members were unsatisfied with her belief that Donald Trump’s rhetoric often is both figurative and hyperbolic.

Nomani defended her vote, but she also expressed an unwillingness to justify all of Trump’s policy decisions.

“A vote, to me, does not mean a love letter,” she explained.

Nomani hinted at the extreme hatred and sheer harassment she has endured since the election in November.

“I have faced, in the last three months, more hate than in my fifteen years of battling Islamic extremism. And that’s because of how I cast my ballot.”

One audience member, Christopher Hall, praised Nomani for speaking out against this intolerance.

“What I think all of us need to recognize is that Asra Nomani is risking her life by being here and saying what she says,” Hall told the audience.

Nomani comes across as genteel and soft-spoken, but her voice is sending shockwaves through Georgetown’s political discourse. Praising the values of free and civil discourse, Nomani encouraged students to continue engaging in difficult conversations.

“Support those Muslims reformers who are challenging Islamic extremism because that shows the world that there’s hope,” she said. “We can’t use the idea of Islamophobia to shut down the conversation.”

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Elizabeth McKee is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service studying International Political Economy. Originally from Spokane, Washington, she is passionate about politics and issues of international trade.

1 COMMENT

  1. I would very much like to meet Asra Nonai. I want to work with and support her quest to educate people about radical Islamist extremism. I have a good understanding of the issues and believe I can help with the Reformers movement. My husband was murdered in a terrorist attack and I am passionate about this issue.

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