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Posted in: Islamic Gender & Religious Apartheid, Jihad & Terrorism

Published on Oct 07, 2014 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for

The Mid-Manhattan Library Last Night


The traffic down Fifth Avenue was massive, the suicide artists on bikes darted, amazingly, suddenly, right into the path of oncoming cars and then neatly swirled away. We kept calling ahead to the librarians to inform them of my progress--so that they could inform the waiting crowd. Indeed, it was a lovely turnout. The discussion was not only civilized, it was literate, educated, respectful.

Muslims and Jews and Christians were there, white folk and black folk--an African-American woman who teaches in China, some friends, some fans--and wonder of wonders!--the editor who had worked with me on a proposal for a very important book in 1975 (!): "Rape as a Weapon of War." She had gotten the publishing house to accept it--and then she had left, quite suddenly, and no one wanted to work with me on it. I was thrilled to see her, she was surprised that I remembered her name (how could I forget?) and she spontaneously came up to the platform to embrace me.

The QNA was the most interesting part of the evening--at least to me. I may try to reprise some of it when I can. But for now, here are some of the library- and book-related remarks I made.

"Thank you, Debbie Hirsch for inviting me to speak in the library. I love libraries. I am a book person. I love to read books and I love to write them. I love beautiful books—leather bound, gold embossed, and books with beautiful covers—the kind of cover that "An American Bride in Kabul" has—the kind of book which I fear will, in the future, be relegated to glass cases in museums. I can hear the museum guide telling children that "this is how people used to access information."

This is my fifteenth book. I had a Dream Team at Palgrave-Macmillan and as a 42 year veteran of publishing trust me: this really counts. To my surprise, this book won a National Jewish Book Award. It received very positive pre-publication reviews and endorsements from just the right people. Walmart is now selling the kindle and paperback editions of this book.

Bride was reviewed in People magazine, featured in a contest in Elle magazine, serialized by the New York Post and by publications in England and Australia, reviewed twice at Huffington Post, and in the Globe and Mail, Al-Arabiya, The Weekly Standard, Psychology Today, and in the American-Jewish and Israeli media. I was interviewed by MSNBC, FOX, PBS, NPR, BBC, Al-Jazeera; CSPAN covered a reading I did and aired that reading many times. I also appeared at the 92nd St. Y."

But enough about me. The people who gathered there asked some interesting questions.

"How do we get people to understand that radical Islam is not peaceful and that we are all in danger?"

"How do we get people to understand that Islam is about peace, that women have rights under Islam, that Kabul will never become like New York, and what is your view of polygamy?"

"Why do Muslims want the right to practice Islam in their way in Western countries while not allowing other religions to be practiced in Muslim countries?"

"Tourists who visit a place called Islam cannot speak for it or understand it."

"Why are people who condemn Muslim-on-Muslim atrocities then called racists and Islamophobes?"

"But there are also serious injustices where women are concerned in America, specifically in matters of custody."

"How can we judge other cultures? What gives us the right to do so?"

These were soft ball questions for me and I enjoyed how positively my answers were embraced.

All in all--a good time was had by all.


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