Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a new book out in which she anoints herself as a leader in Islamic reformation, despite being an ex-Muslim who no longer identifies with the faith. The book has earned her wide coverage in the news media, with many taking at face value the claim that she is simply interested in combating extremism and fostering more tolerance in Muslim countries.
Yet Hirsi Ali's advocacy efforts up until this point have not left any room for the reform she now says she champions. Rather, she has demonized Islam and condemned Muslims on numerous occasions. Here are five examples.
1. She called for war on Islam. In a 2007 interview with Reason Magazine, Hirsi Ali said that there could only be positive changes if “Islam is defeated.” The magazine asked in a followup question, “Don't you mean defeating radical Islam?” She responded, “No. Islam, period….I think that we are at war with Islam. And there's no middle ground in wars.”
2. She referred to Islam as the 'new fascism.' From a 2007 interview with the London Evening Standard: “Just like Nazism started with Hitler's vision, the Islamic vision is a caliphate….Sharia law is as inimical to liberal democracy as Nazism.”
3. She called Islam a 'cult.' Hirsi Ali drew fire from fellow atheists at Yale, who objected to her calling Islam a “nihilistic cult of death.”
4. She rationalized the actions of terrorist Anders Breivik. After Breivik killed dozens of people in an insane protest of Sweden's integration of Muslims and non-whites, Hirsi Ali rationalized his violence, saying Breivik was “censored” by authorities for his writings in favor of Christian superiority and that he felt he had “no choice” but to commit terror.
5. She said Islam is the 'greatest possible danger to world peace.' In a 2010 interview in the Guardian, she said Islam “inspires in today's world the greatest possible danger to world peace.”
Today, Hirsi Ali is trying to position herself as someone who merely wants reform of Islam to undercut extremists, but her entire career up until this point has been to paint all Muslims with the same brush and to condemn the religion and its followers.
While she is no longer calling for total war on the religion, as she did in the 2007 Reason interview, she continues to use hostile rhetoric against Muslims. Over the summer, she said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deserved a Nobel Peace Prize for his conduct during the Gaza war; she excused white racism by saying the “white man” is less sexist and racist than 100 or even 50 years ago. And in a recent interview with Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show," she said, “We will be better off when a majority of Muslims value life more than value death—then we will be better off.” Jon Stewart was taken aback and asked,“You truly believe that a majority of Muslims value death more than value life?” Hirsi Ali affirmed that she did.
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