by Gary Fouse
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
For those of you who have never heard of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it behooves you to learn about her. She is truly a remarkable person. I have just finished reading her autobiography, "Infidel". It is a book everybody should read.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is originally a Somali who grew up as a Muslim in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Ethiopia. She lived through the civil war in Somalia and experienced female circumcision as a young girl. (Female circumcision is not practiced by all Muslim societies. It is mostly found in certain regions of Africa.)
She also grew up experiencing doubts about the restrictions placed on her by her religion, restrictions which she occasionally violated.
Eventually, Ayaan's father arranged a marriage for her with a Somali man who was living in Canada, a marriage she wanted no part of. While en route to Canada, Ali got on a train in Germany and proceeded alone to The Netherlands, where she became a refugee. In The Netherlands, she educated herself and eventually became a Dutch citizen while hiding from her family, and, when they found her, resisting their pleas to return to the family fold and accept her marriage.
All during these years in The Netherlands, Ali was astounded at the openness and tolerance of the Dutch authorities and people toward immigrants. She was also surprised at how so many Muslim immigrants seemed so ungrateful toward the Dutch and unwilling to assimilate. She also criticized the Dutch for being too tolerant and simply allowing immigrants to live in their own ghettos and continue their old traditions and customs-including in the case of certain groups, "honor killings" and forced female circumcision.
Ali was in The Netherlands on September 11, 2001 and was profoundly affected by the slaughter. She eventually came to the conclusion that there was no God, and renounced Islam. As she began to speak out publicly, it caused a furor not only with her family, but also among Muslims in The Netherlands and other European countries. Death threats began to pour in. During this same period, Ali was elected to the Dutch Parliament in January 2003. One of the efforts she led was to try and get the government to keep statistics on the number of "honor-killings" that were taking place in the country, which they were not doing. The government agreed to try it on a pilot basis in two police regions out of the twenty-five total. In those two regions between October 2004 and May 2005, eleven Muslim girls were killed by their families for reasons of "honor".
At a certain point, the threats became too real. The tipping point was in 2004, when she collaborated with Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh to make a short film called "Submission", which was critical of Islam's treatment of women. It had become Ayaan's driving mission in life to publicize the plight of Muslim women, especially those who had been subjected to forced female circumcision and "honor-killings", practices that were now taking place not only in Africa and the Middle East, but within Muslim communities in Europe as well.
The film caused a firestorm within Europe's Muslim communities. The same year, a Moroccan immigrant in Amsterdam shot and stabbed van Gogh to death as he rode his bike on a public street. Before he was arrested, he pinned a threatening note to Ali on the knife and left it in Van Gogh's chest. As a result, Ayaan was taken into protective custody and off into a series of safe houses, both in The Netherlands and the US.
Eventually, the Dutch government moved to strip her of her citizenship on grounds that she had falsely filled out her application papers for asylum, which she had always admitted so as to keep her family from finding her. Eventually, she resigned from Parliament and left The Netherlands.
Today, Ali still lives in the West, but still with death threats hanging over her head. Her family has renounced her. What is the lesson to be learned from Ali's story? There are many, but as Ali has stated herself, it is Western ideas of tolerance that have allowed Muslim girls and women to be victimized within their own families and communities. The Dutch and other Europeans have thought that they were showing their tolerance by allowing immigrants to live in their own communities and according to their own traditions. Yet this same "tolerance" was allowing innocent girls and women to having their rights violated-rights that are guaranteed by Western laws and constitutions. This is unacceptable. Every human being who resides in the West-including the US-should be protected from these practices. There can be no exceptions in the name of freedom of religion or political correctness. So called "honor-killings" have no place under our laws nor forced female circumcisions. Immigrants who choose to come to the West must be under no illusions that we will turn a blind eye to these practices. They must understand that we have laws that protect women-and homosexuals as well from persecutiuon and violence.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a hero who has placed her very life on the line to speak her beliefs and tell her story. We must stand behind her. Who knows? Maybe someday, she will be remembered as another Martin Luther King.