Day By Day

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Heroine Comes to Philly

From the Inky:

Freedom fighter

Under threat of death, bodyguards always near, Dutch politician and author Ayaan Hirsi Ali keeps on fearlessly criticizing Islam.

Sitting regally at a small table in 19, the tony cafe atop Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, Ayaan Hirsi Ali smiles as if the world were a peaceful place, and all people brothers and sisters.

Slim, black, beautiful and stylish, she lifts her espresso cup to her lips slowly, with a princess' sense of self. Waitresses flit about. Wealthy sorts chat across their overpriced breakfasts. Hirsi Ali, 36 looking like 26, turns heads....

She's beautiful and refined, but she's incredibly tough and she pulls no punches.

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.

And for the American "Nation of Islam" she has this message:

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."

Read it here.


Jasper Gerard interviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali for the Times. [here]

Interesting title quote: You won't beat terror with tolerance

No comments: