It’s — and unusual — to see this in the Philadelphia Inquirer (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist): “Freedom fighter: Under threat of death, bodyguards always near, Dutch politician and author Ayaan Hirsi Ali keeps on fearlessly criticizing Islam.”
Hirsi Ali believes the Dutch now split into “appeasers” who don’t want to upset Muslim communities, and a growing number of “confrontationalists” like herself.
Hirsi Ali concedes she had already leaned toward leaving Holland for many reasons: the death threats and security; eviction from her most recent apartment in the Hague after neighbors won a court judgment that Hirsi Ali’s dangerous proximity violated their human rights; and the chance to come to the United States as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. So she resigned from Parliament.
“It is difficult to work as a parliamentarian if you have nowhere to live,” she told a news conference….
Her critics contend that Hirsi Ali takes the worst aspects of Islam, such as instances of racism and abuse of women, and projects them onto all Muslims. To Hirsi Ali’s credit, she includes their criticisms in her book and seeks to answer them.
But you need talk only briefly with Hirsi Ali, or read The Caged Virgin – a crisp, very clear indictment of Islamic misogyny mixed with autobiographical scenes and reflections about her own liberation – to understand that the lady pulls no punches.
This is not Rodney King and “Can’t we all just get along?” Not “We respect Islam and, hey, everyone has a few bad apples.”
Hirsi Ali aims at Islam’s heart. She insists that the beliefs and life of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, must be confronted, analyzed, and, in many respects, rejected.
“If 1.2 billion to 1.5 billion abide by, follow his rules,” Hirsi Ali observes, “and say we want to be like him, then I think it’s urgent, it’s necessary.”
She concedes that Muhammad urged Muslims to do some good things, “such as his advice to be charitable toward the poor and orphans.” But, Hirsi Ali insists, on the whole he’s not admirable.
“He borrowed a little bit from Judaism,” she says, “he borrowed a little bit from Christianity, and he invented some things, especially the fierceness with which he dealt with his enemies, the killing, the way he violated special tribal rules.”
Long before radical Islamists threatened violence in return for any criticism of Muhammad (thus violating the Islamic principle that Muhammad was a man with flaws and should not be idolized), Islamic scholars accepted that Muhammad was a warrior of his time, contending that he shouldn’t be judged by modern standards.
Even Lewis, the great scholar of Islam, leans to that interpretation, though Hirsi Ali sees his graciousness as prudence: “I think Bernard wants to leave the Arabs some dignity… . He wants to give them an opening, which is really noble… . ”
Her own view, however, is that “following this man [Muhammad] can lead to only one thing, fascism… .”
Hirsi Ali says she decided to confront Muhammad’s history after Nigerian Muslims rioted over the planned 2002 Miss World contest there. A British-educated Nigerian journalist poured fuel on the fire by writing that Muhammad himself would have married one of the contestants. The rioting killed 200 people.
“So I said,” Hirsi Ali confides, ” ‘You know what, darling Europeans? I’m going to tell you about Muhammad!’ ”
True to her gloves-off approach, Hirsi Ali talked about how Muhammad, who had nine wives, fell in love with his wife Aisha when she was 6 and married her when she was 9. Hirsi Ali outraged Dutch Muslims by accusing Muhammad of pedophilia.
Hirsi Ali says some took the issue seriously. She emphasizes its relevance because “there are more and more men taking minors as wives, and saying that Muhammad is their example.”
Hirsi Ali says the debate gave her hope – she received one letter from a Muslim that read, “I don’t know what you started in me, but I am thinking… . ”
In the same way, Hirsi Ali explains, she’d like to challenge the beliefs of Black Muslims in America. She finds it as unfathomable that African Americans would convert to Islam as that Jews would convert to Nazism.
“I want to tell them about Darfur,” she asserts firmly. “The people in Darfur are being exterminated just because they are black. So [Islam] is also a racist doctrine… . People don’t know what’s going on in Saudi Arabia. All these palaces are full of black slaves! So the black community here converting to Islam is like converting voluntarily to slavery.
“I think if they hear it from a black person,” she says hopefully, “it will help.”
These days, Hirsi Ali reports, she’s working on a book about Enlightenment values – Voltaire remains a great hero. She plans to have it translated into Arabic, Urdu, and other key languages and distributed around the world in video and audio.
“I’m going to resurrect Muhammad, and he’s going to have conversations with [British philosopher Karl] Popper and me and [economic theorist Friedrich] Hayek.”
Hirsi Ali smiles. “I hope I live long enough to complete it,” she says.