Azar Nafisi: What do you think of Ayaan Hirsi Ali?

Azar Nafisi: I mean there are many aspects to her which we can’t go in detail. But I do not have the same views as she has. I think she is very militantly anti-Islam, while I do see more colors or nuances into it. But one thing that I . . . that I object to in the attacks on her is that first of all they cannot accept that a woman can come from a Muslim background and have the views that ...has. While any society would need those views as well, it is good to have someone who is radically and fundamentally against you in order to challenge you; to interrogate your ideas; to make you think about yourself. I mean if you agree that you’re democratic, you don’t attack ... as some . . . as a western entity because she loves Western liberal ideas. And also remember that the fundamentalists . . . Islamists got their philosophy from the west. Only they got it from the fascists and the Stalinists. It’s not as if there are pure Islamic . . . The traditional Islamics are not like these people, you know? So those who attack ...themselves are attacking in a Western style. And the second thing that bothers . . . And anyway she’s talking from her own experiences. Female genital mutilation might be a cultural product and not just an Islamic product, but the Islamic society is not saying that it’s bad. So as long as they are not rejecting it, people would say it’s Islamic. If it’s just the culture that belongs to long time ago, why don’t you abolish it? You know so there is that problem that stays. The state is very good at abolishing a lot of things, you know? And the last thing about ... that is very disturbing is that this woman, for what she has been saying . . . And let us say that everything that she’s been saying has been terrible, you know? But for her words and for her opinions, she’s condemned to live in hiding basically because of the fear for her life. And I think that this is an issue that we should take seriously in a democratic society when we attack her more than we attack the conditions that put her in that situation.

Recorded on: 2/22/08

Even if you don't agree with her views, Nafisi says, Hirsi Ali should not have to fear for her life for expressing them.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Videos
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less