Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Cartoons and Islam

Tuesday, February 7th, 2006 11:01 pm by Neal

(Hat tip: instapundit)

I first learned of Ayaan Hirsi Ali (I love her name) when I read this article in 2004. I was very impressed with this woman from Somalia who fled Saudi Arabia for the Netherlands to become a pro-freedom, controversial politician critical of the oppression of women by Islam, even in a progressive country like her adopted home. You’ll be impressed also.

Der Spiegel has this most excellent interview with Hirsi Ali, ,’Everyone Is Afraid to Criticize Islam’, on the Muhammad cartoons, historical examples of European self-censorship in the face of Islam, the murder of Theo van Gogh, and more. Excerpts:

SPIEGEL: Was apologizing for the cartoons the wrong thing to do?

Hirsi Ali: Once again, the West pursued the principle of turning first one cheek, then the other. In fact, it’s already a tradition. In 1980, privately owned British broadcaster ITV aired a documentary about the stoning of a Saudi Arabian princess who had allegedly committed adultery. The government in Riyadh intervened and the British government issued an apology. We saw the same kowtowing response in 1987 when (Dutch comedian) Rudi Carrell derided (Iranian revolutionary leader) Ayatollah Khomeini in a comedy skit (that was aired on German television). In 2000, a play about the youngest wife of the Prophet Mohammed, titled “Aisha,” was cancelled before it ever opened in Rotterdam. Then there was the van Gogh murder and now the cartoons. We are constantly apologizing, and we don’t notice how much abuse we’re taking. Meanwhile, the other side doesn’t give an inch.

SPIEGEL: But Muslims, like any religious community, should also be able to protect themselves against slander and insult.

Hirsi Ali: That’s exactly the reflex I was just talking about: offering the other cheek. Not a day passes, in Europe and elsewhere, when radical imams aren’t preaching hatred in their mosques. They call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they’re just exercising their freedom of speech. When will the Europeans realize that the Islamists don’t allow their critics the same right? After the West prostrates itself, they’ll be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless.

SPIEGEL: Many have criticized the film [ed: "Submission"] as being too radical and too offensive.

Hirsi Ali: The criticism of van Gogh was legitimate. But when someone has to die for his world view, what he may have done wrong is no longer the issue. That’s when we have to stand up for our basic rights. Otherwise we are just reinforcing the killer and conceding that there was a good reason to kill this person.

SPIEGEL: You too have been accused for your dogged criticism of Islam.

Hirsi Ali: Oddly enough, my critics never specify how far I can go. How can you address problems if you’re not even allowed to clearly define them? Like the fact that Muslim women at home are kept locked up, are raped and are married off against their will — and that in a country in which our far too passive intellectuals are so proud of their freedom!

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a sharp woman who makes some great points. There’s more, so give her a read.

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