The interviewer here is intent on portraying Islam and Christianity as essentially identical in character, but Hirsi Ali, who certainly holds no brief for Christianity, is able to tell him some truths anyway.
“Political writer Hirsi Ali discusses democracy and Islam,” by Mark Colvin for ABC News Australia, August 5 (thanks to JE):
(To Ayaan Hirsi Ali) Is Islam the problem or is fundamentalist Islam the problem?
AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Islam, as a creed, is the problem, depending on how you define the problem and I define it as the ideas of Mohammed are incompatible with the ideas that liberal secular democracies are based on.
And I also want to emphasise that it’s not Muslims as in individuals, because they’re varied, they’re very diverse. Some Muslims are a problem, some Muslims are not, some Muslims are apathetic, but Islam as a system of ideas is incompatible with liberal democracy as a system of ideas.
MARK COLVIN: And yet here in Australia we live next to an enormous, mainly Islamic country, which is slowly moving towards democracy which would seem to indicate that Islam itself is not necessarily a complete barrier to doing that.
AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Islam is a barrier to doing that, but your next door neighbour, which is the world’s probably largest Muslim country, started out after the decolonisation process as a secular democratic country, and right now we see two trends.
We see Indonesians who are evolving in their understanding and practice of democracy, but we also see Indonesians who are affected by the Middle East, and especially by the Islamic Radical Movement and who are choosing to introduce Sharia, or parts of Sharia, into Indonesia, and I think it’s that trend that Australia should not ignore. And it’s that trend that Indonesia itself should not ignore. […]
Islam as creed as incapable of change in the sense that “¦ for instance there’s a read-only lock on the Koran. Anyone who proposes to change anything in the Koran is considered an apostate, and is immediately killed or threatened with death.
Muslims hold that the Prophet Mohammed is infallible. In fact, it’s a claim he did not make, but that is accorded to him. So that Muslims must in the 21st century, emulate the example of the Prophet Mohammed. And I think Islam will change, will be reformed, if a fair amount of Muslims abandon those dogmas. […]
If you have, as we have right now, people who want to practice Islam in its most pure form, and impose it on not just Muslims, but everyone else, then you’re going to see a resistance both from within Islam and outside of Islam.
And that resistance, if that doesn’t lead to a dialogue, a peaceful dialogue with a peaceful outcome, will lead to bloodshed. And if you look, if you listen to the rhetoric of al-Qaeda and Bin Laden, these are people who say we can’t compromise unless everyone becomes a Muslim. Now, everyone is not going to become a Muslim, and so then you set the stage for violence, and that violence is then caused by the zealots, by the puritans.
If freedom of expression is limited as it is in Muslim countries, and as large numbers of minorities in Western societies are demanding, then that means the free exchange of ideas. And the stages for that diminish and people get frustrated and that could lead to violence. […]
Over and over again, when in the name of Islam, human blood is shed, Muslims are very quiet. When drawings are made or some perceived slight or offences given by writing a book, or making a drawing, or in some way criticising the dogmas of Islam, people take to the streets. We have all these leaders of the organisation of Islam, the countries who oppressed on people, coming to demand the people apologise.
And I think it’s this discrepancy that more and more people see as violence and intolerance and the lack of freedom inherent in the creed of Islam….