Monday, 11 July 2011

Ayaan Hirsi Ali - victim of Islam

Described by Time magazine as one of the hundred most influential women in the world, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has established herself as a notable critic of Islam.  She speaks with an insider's insight into the religion of peace, and as such those of us on the outside can learn a lot from her.

Her life has not been free of controversy.  After she was elected to the Dutch House of Representatives in 2002 it emerged that her initial application for asylum in 1992 had been flawed.  She had given false information about her date of birth and in some sense about her full name (although some argue that this might have been due to a nuance of Somali culture).  Whether or not it is true, the claim that that she was trying to escape from a forced marriage to her cousin was not disputed, and after an investigation into the affair her Dutch citizenship was confirmed.

So - none of us is perfect.

Perfect or not, most people in the west believe that they have an absolute right not to have our lives threatened for any reason at all, let alone due to religious bigotry.  After she escaped marriage and fled she was already under threat from her extended family.  Had they found her there is little doubt that they would have murdered her for damaging her family's reputation.  But things moved on when she worked with Theo van Gogh to make a film about her experiences.  The movie Submission brought to the public view the treatment of women in Islamic society.  Passages from the Qur'an were displayed alongside scenes of actresses portraying Muslim women suffering abuse.

Van Gogh was a friend and supporter of the (somewhat controversial) politician Pim Fortuyn and his last film was a fictional account of Fortuyn's murder in 2002.  Controversial or not - surely it is wrong that Fortuyn was apparently killed 'to stop him from exploiting Muslims as "scapegoats" and targeting "the weak members of society" in seeking political power'. 

Having established himself as a leading critic of islam, in the early hours of 2nd November 2004, Theo Van Gogh was murdered by  - you guessed it - another supporter of the religion of peace - Dutch-Moroccan, Mohammed Bouyeri who is now serving life in prison with no hope of parole.

Now Ayaan Hirsi Ali is living with the threat of murder from a larger proportion of the muslim world - not only from her close family.  She continues unabated to campaign against islam, claiming to have become an atheist in 2002 while drinking a glass of wine and wondering why such an action would condemn her to eternal damnation in hell.

She is the founder of the AHA Foundation which campaigns for womens rights in cultures all around the world.

You can hear her speak (among other places) in a Point of Inquiry podcast episode from 2009 or read the episode notes at this link.

I find her to be inspiring, interesting and courageous, standing up for the rights of people who may not even realise that they need support or that there are other ways to live.

Related posts this weekend:
7/7 - Imagine no religion
Geert Wilders - Innocent
Ayan Hirsi Ali - victim of Islam -- this post

Previous related posts:
Look out! Sharia about!
Adam and Eve featured
Draw Mohammed Day
Discrimination in Afghanistan

Learning from Islamic History 

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