Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an incredibly brave woman. I’ve never seen the level of security I saw surrounding Hirsi Ali’s appearance in the sleepy, low crime city of Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara was described, as I was growing up there, as being for the “newly wed and nearly dead” and that certainly still holds true. It’s about as non- threatening a city as there is.
When we entered the parking structure an attendant told us our purses would be searched. They do that at sports events and government buildings, so I thought nothing of it, but as we walked out of the parking structure, we were met by a police officer who said any bags bigger than his clip board would not be allowed inside the theater, period. I had to go back and lock my purse in my car. When we got to the theater there were at least 30 officers outside and inside the theater.
One has to reflect on why this level of security has not been necessary in this country before. What has changed? Why are people who would carry out death threats against American citizens allowed in this country?
Hirsi Ali has every reason to take death threats seriously. She made a short film, “Submission” with film maker Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands. It criticized the treatment of women in Islamic societies. A fatwa was issued against her and Van Gogh. Van Gogh was gunned down in the streets of Amsterdam. His assailant was subdued while trying to behead his dead body.
Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia and raised Muslim. She said she lived and breathed the Qur’an and wore a hijab until she was a teenager. She said she agreed with the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie for writing. “The Satanic Verses”. Death to those who spoke against Islam seemed perfectly reasonable to her at the time.
Hirsi Magan Isse, Ayaan’s father was a leading figure in the Somalian Revolution and was imprisoned shortly after she was born. He was against female genital mutilation, but while he was in prison, when Ayaan was five years old, her grandmother had the procedure performed on her.
Hirsi Ali’s father escaped from prison and took his family to Saudi Arabia and then to Ethiopia, before finally settling in Kenya. In 1992, while visiting a relative in the Netherlands, Hirsi Ali requested political asylum. She became an activist against the treatment of Islamic women and against female genital mutilation. She was ultimately elected to the Dutch parliament.
After 9/11 Hirsi Ali listened to videotapes of Osama bin Laden citing “words of justification” from the Qur’an for the attacks. She said she was almost afraid to look in the Qur’an because she was afraid she would find the quotations. She found the passages bin Laden quoted and came to regard the Qur’an as just another historical book. She is now an atheist.
In 2006 Hirsi Ali came to America to work with the American Enterprise Institute.
She founded the AHA Foundation to fight for women’s rights. In 2013, when she became an American citizen, she was made a fellow at the Kennedy Government School at Harvard University. In 2005. Time magazine named her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
She said American’s willingness to accept other religions and cultures is working against the country particularly when it comes to Islam. We don’t understand it is not just a religion. She said accepting Islam means accepting Sharia law and a 7th century political ideology. It is not compatible with our culture or form of government. She said what we are seeing is not “radical” Islam, it’s orthodox Islam.
During a Q&A, Hirsi Ali was asked what can be done about a growing Islamic threat to the United States. She said the only way to stop it is Islamic reformation. The religion must be separated from Sharia and the political ideology. She said there are those who would like to see that happen and are working toward that end, however, unless or until that happens Islam will continue to move toward a caliphate and world domination.