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Posted by on Oct 24, 2007 in At TMV | 16 comments

The Crusader: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

It makes me cringe when I hear references to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. An ex-Muslim, a former Dutch parliamentarian, and a feminist, Hirsi Ali is often trotted out as some sort of spokeswoman for moderate Islam. A few years back, she wrote a book (“Infidel”) and produced a movie (“Submission”) that condemn harsh treatment associated with Islam; since then, she’s been a celebrity. As blogger Shadi Hamid notes, “people seem intent on treating her as some kind of anointed spokeswoman for oppressed Muslim women, a reformer from within the faith or, worse, a kind of pseudo-Muslim Martin Luther.”

But Hirsi Ali is no Martin Luther. She’s condescending, elitist, and inspires no respect amongst Muslims. Hamid points out that he has “yet to meet even one Muslim on the planet, secular or conservative, liberal or illiberal, who actually thinks that Hirsi Ali is helping the cause of internal Muslim reform.” Maybe, just maybe, Muslims don’t take to her because of comments like this one: the Koran, she has said, is “brutal, bigoted, fixated on controlling women, and harsh in war.” Or perhaps Muslims don’t like her because of interviews, like the recent one conducted by Reason Magazine, in which she argues that Islam must be “defeated”:

Reason: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?

Hirsi Ali: No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace.

Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?

Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.

Go back and read that last line again. Is it not laughable to suggest that someone who believes that Islam must be ‘crushed’ can somehow be a spokeswoman for liberal Islam? Hirsi Ali then goes on, when asked for more clarification, to argue that there is no room for co-existence with her former religion:

Reason: So when even a hard-line critic of Islam such as Daniel Pipes says, “Radical Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution,” he’s wrong?

Hirsi Ali: He’s wrong.

While I have much regard for those who call for moderation in Islam, push for greater Muslim women’s rights, or who question violent or radical interpretations of the Koran, it’s hard to respect those who condemn the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims as backwards and their holy book as retarded. Eerie, over at the Aqoul blog, finds Hirsi Ali’s blanket condemnations of Islam equally obnoxious. Quoting a part in the Reason Magazine interview in which Hirsi Ali calls the Muslim god “fire-breathing” and suggests that he “inspires jihadism and totalitarianism,” Eerie sarcastically responds with a smack-down:

Right, because when my dear old grannie whispers bismi-llahi ar-rahmani ar-rahimi to herself, she is in fact wishing death upon all those dirty infidel crusaders. That line, which opens almost every sura in the Quran, means “Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful” not “Allah, the Most Badass, the Biggest Asskicker.”

Sure, there are radical Muslims whose religious views condone violence. However, my grandmother and over a billion other Muslims don’t spend their days plotting the downfall of Christians and Jews.

That there is a broad diversity of interpretation and opinion in Islam is something that Hirsi Ali blatantly misses. Instead, she takes the actions of a few thugs and conflates their beliefs with an entire religion. No wonder she doesn’t get any respect in the Muslim world. Hirsi Ali is not a spokeswoman for moderates; she’s a spokeswoman for all those who despise Islam.

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