From Allen Gregg in Conversation, TVO, October 9, 2010
AYAAN HIRSI ALI
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, has lived under threat of death for years. Born in Somalia, the former Dutch member of parliament was forced into hiding after the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, with whom she had made a film denouncing the treatment of women in Islam. She wrote about it in her bestselling memoir, Infidel. Now she's come out with a follow-up. It's called Nomad.
This young woman is saying some very complex and important things about her experiences as a daughter of Islam who has left her family faith and now seeks to enlighten especially Muslim women by speaking to them about christianity. While she agrees that all people are created equal, she holds that not all cultures and religions are equal. In the fear of Mohammed, and the fear of the hereafter, the most important aspect of Islam, and in the treatment of women, according to Ms Ali, she finds the Islamic faith seriously wanting.
In addressing the significant feminists of North America, like Germaine Greer, she believes they have "provincialized" feminism, and focused their attention on the evils of white males, exclusively, ignoring the evils of males of black or brown or yellow cultures, because those men do what they do because of their culture.
As I understand her, she seems to want to enter the 'marketplace of ideas' with those of the liberal democracies competing equally for the hearts and minds of the billions of Muslims of various cultures around the world. As a spokesperson to Islam, having grown up in that religion and culture, she knows firsthand of the young men who are standing on the streets of cities around the world, including Somalia, vulnerable and receptive to the seduction of those recruiting for jihad, with the promise of an idyllic afterlife if they will enlist, receive minimal training and become a successful suicide bomber.
She has even separated herself from her mother's fear of her spending her afterlife 'burning in hell' because she has disobeyed Mohammed.
On the subject of the veil for women, she indicates that for Muslim women not to wear the veil is to suggest in their culture that such women are whores, and available.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali's own life is in danger constantly; consequently, she moves about with a bodyguard, and has appeared on ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour, in a townhall meeting, by videotape, only to be attacked by the wife of the imam who is leading the initiative to build the Islamic centre near ground zero, as being the woman with a bodyguard, while the imam's wife proudly asserts that, although her life is in danger, she does not have a bodyguard.
As Ali states, there is a political side to Islam, (she might also be aware of a similar 'arm' of christianity) to which she is especially opposed. It is the battle of the political arms of faith that we may be watching as fundamentalists, both Islamic and Christian seem to be feeding each other and the war of conquest of the hearts and minds of individual recruits.
Interestingly,not engaged in active recruitment, the Jewish faith and culture are, it would appear, enemies of Islam and friends of Christians and to some extent, the war can be measured by the attempts to smear the Jews or protect those same Jews.
This war, while it will not bring about co-operation between and among fatihs, has certainly brought out how people feel about and fear the unknown, and the newest 'player' in the scene is the jihadist which Ali confirms is an intimate ingredient to the faith and practice of Islam around the world.
If this is truly a war of civilizations, as Ali contends with others, then the West will certainly have to take a different approach from the military one that has embroiled the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan for a full decade. We cannot continue to pour borrowed billions into winning the hearts and minds of the Taliban, in the hope of eradicating Islamic jihad. Perhaps we need more Ayaan Hirsi Ali's from all sides, to take the battle to the classrooms, to the bars, the pubs, the restaurants and the community centres.
However, in order to accomplish that, people like Ali will have to feel free enough to shed their bodyguard, to avoid their inevitable death. We can only hope that she does not have to live the rest of her live underground, appearing through television screens, webscreens books and radio, in order to stay safe.