The Guardian profiles one of the greatest heroes on the planet today, Ayaan Hirsi Ali (thanks to all who sent this in):
Hirsi Ali’s recommendations to the Labour policy unit were blunt and radical: close all 41 Islamic schools, put a break on immigration and change article 23. Jaws hit the table. The reaction she got indicated how badly she had started trampling on taboos. Job Cohen, who would emerge as one of the key bridge-builders in Dutch-Muslim relations, suggested that Hirsi Ali focus on integration. Influenced by the events of September 11, however, she began to publish articles arguing that Islam was not capable of integrating into a society that was itself not very good at integration. Furthermore, she concluded, if you looked into the condition of women in Muslim communities you found an intractable problem, one which liberals and multiculturalists refused to address. “I called it the paradox of the left,” she says. “On the one hand they support ideals of equality and emancipation, but in this case they do nothing about it; they even facilitate the oppression.”…
So is Hirsi Ali tarring all Muslim cultures with one definition of the meaning of Islam? “People who ask me that question assume that geography is more important for Muslims than what is contained in the holy Qur’an. Of course the circumstances in which people live in Turkey are different from those in Morocco or Somalia. But when it comes to the relationship between men and women, in all these countries there is a red line of the woman being subordinate to the male. And most Muslim men justify this subordinacy with the Qur’an. There are so many meanings Europeans miss. We Muslims are brought up with the idea that there is just one relationship possible with God – submission. That’s Islam: submission to the will of Allah. I want to bring about a different relationship, in which you say, ‘Dear God, I would like to have a conversation with You.’ Instead of submission, you get a relationship of dialogue. Let’s just assume it’s possible.”…
It is painfully moving to think of this smart, quiet Somali woman, who looks so small walking away between her bodyguards, believing herself to be dangerous. But she is. Anyone who wants to work with her will have to calculate the risk. “I don’t want somebody else to be murdered,” she says. “But if I stop doing what I’m doing, it will be like another murder. That’s the real trauma, perhaps, the thought of going through what happened to Theo van Gogh again. We told each other we would make part two, and the thing that keeps me going is the thought, ‘I have to do it, I have to do it, I have to do it.'”
Read it all.
I recently got an email from someone claiming to be Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s cousin. This person wrote: “I read your interview with Ayaan Hirsi. I know her, she is my cousin.We are from the same tribe and i have lived in holland for 10yrs. The strange thing is that her views on islam are not the views that i have. i feel sorry for her because it seems to me that she went through a rough life. I do understand why she says what she has said, however this is not what islam is. I am afraid that she has confused religion with culture.”
I responded: “OK. What do you think of Qur’an 4:34, just for starters?”
No reply from “cousin.”