Are These 2 Reasons to Reform Islam Convincing Enough?
Author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali says she doesn't buy into the major worries about Islamophobia.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Dutch-American feminist filmmaker and political writer. She is author of several books, the latest of which is Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now. She is also founder of the AHA Foundation, a former fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a former member of the Dutch parliament.
Ali is a vocal critic of Islam whose writings often focus on the religion's subjugation of women. Her work is controversial and has resulted in numerous death threats. In 2004 Ayaan gained international attention following the murder of Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh had directed her short film Submission, a film about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin left a death threat for her pinned to Van Gogh's chest. This tragic event, and Ayaan’s life leading up to it, are all chronicled in her best-selling book, Infidel.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: In the United States of America, I see that Muslims as individuals, as organizations, as a community are present everywhere. If anything there's more listening to them than less of listening to them. I want to juxtapose that with the plight of Christians and Jews and Atheists and ex-Muslims and gays in the Muslim world. I'm not talking about the war-torn places; I'm talking about the places where there is order and the way Muslim societies respond to that. And if I were a vocal Muslim individual or a vocal Muslim organization, I would use my energy to highlight what we as Muslims, those of us who were brought within Islam in our own countries are doing to Christians and various sects of women and Jews and all that. So, I have to be quite honest with you, I don't buy much of this whole victim thing.
Then there's another metric. In places where people are oppressed and persecuted, people don't go there. Christians are fleeing Muslim countries. Muslims are flocking to originally Christian countries. I'm not a Christian. I'm not religious in the least. I'm an atheist. But it's a mere observation. So I think in a way these organizations are playing not only non-Muslim Americans, but they're also playing the Muslim communities that they target to make them feel that they're victims of some illusion, some form of persecution that they are not in order to band them together and then manipulate them. And it's up to us to investigate these things.
I remember in the Netherlands, a band of Muslim women saying we've been spat upon. And we said, "Who did the spitting?" And we looked into it. Nobody did the spitting. She said ultimately the woman who said she was accused said, "I thought he was going to spit on me, but it didn't happen." Women who were saying, "We were looked at differently," well, if you cover yourself from head to toe in black you are going to attract attention. I know a little bit about Islam. The whole idea of covering the Muslim woman is based on so that you as a woman may not attract attention. If you find yourself in a society where people are not covered from head to toe in black and you cover yourself from head to toe in black, you are going to attract attention. So if people look at you, it may not be because they hate you or they want you out of the country; it may be because you are interesting. You are just as if you have walked off a Darth Vader set. That's probably why they're looking at you. I think we need to have this sort of honest conversation with them instead of indulging that I am a victim of. But obviously they're hiding and this is what we're seeing in our own society that all kinds of segments of people in our society feel that they are a victim of this or a victim of that in the freest society in the world. If you're victimized in America, goodness me, how would you have survived the rest of the world?
Author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali says she doesn't buy into worries about Islamophobia in the United States. Ali doesn't think it's as big a problem as it's often lain out, and that the treatment of Muslims in America far surpasses the treatment of Christians, women, Jews, et al. in traditionally Muslim countries. Furthermore, she subscribes to a theory that manipulative interest groups encourage Muslims in America to feel victimized.
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