Monday, November 07, 2005

Hirsi Ali:
Hero Of

Great news. The LA Times ran a front page article on Hirsi Ali today:

After he shot Theo van Gogh and slashed his throat, the assassin plunged a second knife into his victim, pinning to the chest a bloodstained message to the woman who was the killer's nemesis: Dutch lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

"You mince no words about your hostility against Islam, and for this your masters have rewarded you with a seat in Parliament," declared the letter left by the assassin, Mohammed Bouyeri. "I'd bet my life that you are sweating with FEAR when you read this…. Ayaan Hirshi [sic] Ali, you shall break yourself to pieces on Islam!"

The murder a year ago was choreographed to make Ali feel the wrath of an apocalyptic God. Bouyeri wanted to punish the diminutive Somali-born legislator, who had made a film with Van Gogh denouncing abuse of Muslim women.

Although the filmmaker's murder convulsed Dutch society, the assassin failed to silence Ali. She remains one of the toughest, most endangered leaders in Europe. With a cultured African accent and a soft laugh, she delivers a defiant message.

"If you want to integrate migrants and especially Muslims, then you will have to address cultural issues," said Ali, 35, who has been the target of two assassination plots herself.

"People are talking, carefully, very carefully, about, 'Yes, there must be something in Islam that's not compatible with democracy. And yes, some migrants do have some cultural traits that are not compatible with modernity, that are not compatible with a society based on universal human rights principles.'

"Working into the evening in a well-guarded office in parliament, Ali retains the elegance and charisma that propelled her from refugee to political star. She wears a black pantsuit and sweater on a small, slender frame. She has oval eyes in a long, delicate face set off by pearl earrings.

She insists that extremism grows not from a fanatic fringe, but from the precepts of a religion that needs profound reform. She argues that her personal experience — circumcision, beatings, forced marriage — showed her that Islam collides with democracy and oppresses women.

Many Western politicians shrink from such hard truths, Ali asserts."They are afraid that if you say … you must reform Islam, those millions of quiet Muslims who are not up to anything will all fall into the arms of the fundamentalists," she said.

"I think it's the wrong approach. Because let's go back in time to when Christianity was bloody and barbaric and oppressive…. It only changed after the premises upon which that belief rested were challenged by free thinkers."

I love this woman. She is a hero. Really, she ought to win a Nobel Peace Prize.