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In defence of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

28 March 2015

8:58 PM

28 March 2015

8:58 PM

Max Blumenthal has made a name for himself as a Jew whose main bete noire is the Jewish state. Preferring fairy tales to facts and evidence, Blumenthal paints a picture of a Nazi-esque, evil incarnate (and completely fictitious) Israel. Now, not content with defaming Israel, Blumenthal has moved on to defending Islam against one of its bravest critics in a long and mendacious hit-piece entitled “Exposing Anti-Islam Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Latest Deception.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born refugee, overcame a patriarchal upbringing in a Somali Muslim family, during the course of which she was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) and a forced marriage. She sought asylum in the Netherlands and later the United States after she critiqued and ultimately left Islam. Today, she devotes her life to campaigning against abuses of women’s rights in the name of religion. Having received multiple death threats from groups like Al Qaeda, she lives under round-the-clock protection.

Hirsi Ali’s latest book, Heretic, is an argument for a Muslim Reformation. In it, she “proposes a fundamental five-point modification of Islamic doctrine designed to remove the various incitements embedded in the Koran to engage in intolerance, oppression and violence.” Anyone familiar with Hirsi Ali will immediately recognize a sharp change in tone and newfound optimism in her latest book. Her outlook on the future of Islam and the Muslim majority world has clearly changed, and both her diagnosis of the issues at hand and her solutions have evolved. “I watched four national governments fall—Egypt’s twice—and protests or uprisings occur in fourteen other nations, and I thought simply: I was wrong,” Hirsi Ali reflects on her reaction to the Arab Spring. “Ordinary Muslims are ready for change.”

Hirsi Ali has been on a media drive in an attempt to amplify her message, including television appearances on ABC, Fox News, CNN, and the BBC. She also has written in the Wall St. Journal and the Huffington Post and has been interviewed by the New York Times among other publications. Hirsi Ali’s message has been consistent: “Today too many people, too many women, too many fellow human beings are murdered in the name of Islam,” as she told Megyn Kelly.

Of all of her television appearances and all her messages,  Blumenthal zones in on a single misstep during her appearance on the “Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. On air she mistakenly claimed that Muslims are “responsible” for “70 percent of the violence in the world today.” She meant to say that “70% of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars involving Muslims,” as she wrote in the Wall StreetJournal—where she also made the point that by far “the most numerous victims of Muslim violence—including executions and lynchings not captured in these statistics—are Muslims themselves.” She told me:-

“On TV I wrongly said Muslims were ‘responsible’ when I should have said Muslims were ’involved’. It was nerves and fatigue. My whole point is that we need an Islamic Reformation precisely because most victims of violence committed in the name of Islam are in fact Muslims.”

Hirsi Ali has long admitted that she misrepresented herself when applying for asylum in the Netherlands.

“I said my name was Ayaan Hirsi Ali instead of Ayaan Hirsi Magan. I also said I was born in 1967 while I was actually born in 1969,”

Blumenthal quotes her as telling the Dutch television program Zembla. He does not explain that her reason for doing so was to avoid being hunted down by family members who believed she had brought dishonor to her clan and religion.

We may wonder what exactly Max Blumenthal has against Ali’s call for a Muslim Reformation as a way of freeing Muslim women from the oppression and segregation of sharia law. We may wonder why he directs his fire against her rather than against, say, the murderers of Islamic State and Al Qaeda. Perhaps it is for the same reason that last year he took the Kremlin’s side against the Ukrainian “Maidan” revolution: the strange mixture of idiocy and pathology that in each generation makes a few Jews join the side they have most reason to fear.

Daniel Mael, a senior at Brandeis University, is a fellow at the Salomon Center.


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