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 INSIGHTSCAN

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Wages of sacrilege

The present era has produced a miniscule breed of Muslim intellectuals and writers—such as Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Chahla Chafiq—who are overawed by the West and who take immense delight in disowning and disparaging their own religious and cultural heritage. Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses exemplifies their mindset.

Born in 1967 in Mogadishu (Somalia), Ayaan Hirsi Ali came to the Netherlends as a refugee in 1992. Soon after graduating in political science she joined the far-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. In 2003 she was elected to the Dutch parliament. Soon she became famous for her radical views and damning statements about Islam and the Muslim community in the Netherlands. She publicly declared that she was no longer a Muslim or a believer and argued that the “major aspects of Islamic doctrine and tradition are incompatible with an open society and with women’s emancipation”. In one of her interviews Hirsi Ali said that she considers the Islam of the Quran and of the Prophet as a threat to life. She was eagerly lapped up by the Dutch media and the far-right politicians. Following the worldwide protests and demonstrations by Muslims over the publication of the slanderous cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen and the Iranian rebel writer Chahla Chafiq issued a statement which condemned the protests and said that “after having overcome fascism, Nazism and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global threat: Islamism.”

A Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh made a film called Submission, which was aired on Dutch television in the summer of 2004. The script of the film was written by Hirsi Ali. The film opens with a prayer and then presents, through Hirsi Ali’s voice-over, the stories of four Muslim women telling God about the abuse (including incestuous rape) they have suffered at the hands of men. The film shows semi-nude images of women with verses from the Quran inscribed on their naked bodies. The film quite explicitly conveys the message that Islam has nothing positive to offer to women, that the abuse and humiliation of women by Muslim men is legitimized by the Quran. Understandably, the film created a great deal of anger and resentment among Muslims in the Netherlands. The Dutch media tried to sensationalise the issue by posing provocative questions to Muslim leaders, but they responded with restraint. There was no move to get the film banned. On November 2, 2004, Mohammed, a Dutch citizen of Moroccan descent, stabbed Theo van Gogh to death. After the murder of her mentor Hirsi Ali went into hiding.

The latest news, as reported by The Economist (May 20, 2006) is that the Dutch authorities recently found that Hirsi Ali had told lies about her name and age and had given a fabricated story to justify her application for asylum in the Netherlands in 1992. Consequently, on May 16 her Dutch citizenship was cancelled, following which she had to resign from parliament. Last month, a court ordered her to leave her apartment on the complaint of neighbours who feared for their own safety. She had to leave the Netherlands for the US—disgraced and humiliated.

The Quran says: “A person whom God scorneth, there is none to give him (or her) honour” (22:18).

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