Must read: Reason magazine interviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Update: Huge lapses in Hirsi Ali's security?

A must read under any circumstances but especially this morning, with the Dutch parliament set to join the cabinet in pulling the trap door on her and news on the wires of Islamic scholars appealing to the Vatican for dialogue — before it’s too late. (Says one Catholic bishop of their letter, “One partner cannot dictate the terms on which dialogue must be conducted. This document seems to be on the verge of doing that.”) I’m not going to quote the best part as an incentive for you to read it all but here are two in a string of memorable passages. If you’ve never read or heard Hirsi Ali before, this piece is obligatory as an example of her almost singular effect:

Hirsi Ali: …We have to get serious about this. The Egyptian dictatorship would not allow many radical imams to preach in Cairo, but they’re free to preach in giant mosques in London. Why do we allow it?

Reason: You’re in favor of civil liberties, but applied selectively?

Hirsi Ali: No. Asking whether radical preachers ought to be allowed to operate is not hostile to the idea of civil liberties; it’s an attempt to save civil liberties. A nation like this one is based on civil liberties, and we shouldn’t allow any serious threat to them. So Muslim schools in the West, some of which are institutions of fascism that teach innocent kids that Jews are pigs and monkeys—I would say in order to preserve civil liberties, don’t allow such schools.


Hirsi Ali: …Look, in a democracy, it’s like this: I suggest, “Let’s close Muslim schools.” You say, “No, we can’t do it.” The problem that I’m pointing out to you gets bigger and bigger. Then you say, “OK, let’s somehow discourage them,” and still the problem keeps on growing, and in another few years it gets so bad that I belatedly get what I wanted in the first place.

I respect that it needs to happen this way, but there’s a price for the fact that you and I didn’t share these insights earlier, and the longer we wait, the higher the price. In itself the whole process is not a bad thing. People and communities and societies learn through experience. The drawback is, in this case, that “let’s learn from experience” means other people’s lives will be taken.

As I say, neither one of those is the takeaway passage. That comes at the end, but there’s plenty more about assimilation of Muslims in Europe and America, her surprise at being received warmly at AEI, and, yes, the glories of atheism. As for her momentarily fluid security situation, follow the link to the Expatica article above and see what Christopher Hitchens has up his sleeve. I wonder if the donors he’s lined up will be willing to identify themselves. Probably not.

Update: The perfect postscript.

Update: The showdown over Islamic expansion in Europe may come in, of all places, Switzerland.

If Ulrich Schlüer has his way the Wangen minaret will be toppled. An MP from the rightwing Swiss People’s party (SVP), the country’s strongest, Mr Schlüer has launched a crusade to keep his country culturally Christian.

“Unlike other religions,” he argues, “Islam is not only a religion. It’s an ideology aiming to create a different legal system. That’s sharia. That’s a big problem and in a proper democracy it has to be tackled. If the politicians don’t, the people will.”

Switzerland’s direct democracy rules require referendums if there is enough public support. Mr Schlüer has launched a petition demanding a new clause in the Swiss constitution stating: “The building of minarets in Switzerland is forbidden.” He already has 40,000 signatures. If, as expected, he reaches 100,000 by this time next year a referendum is automatically triggered.

Update: A reader at News Vigiles sends this screencap of a Swiss TV program asking whether minarets should be banned.


Update: You cannot be serious.

Hirsi Ali must have sensed that the mechanics of the debate were not working in her favor and her lawyer released a series of confidential documents right before the debate, much to the annoyance of the government. They make for good reading as they lend support to the fact that Dutch authorities were less than motivated to provide effective security to her. In fact from the moment she arrived in Washington DC last year a series of incident took place were Hirsi Ali felt unsafe, notably when her security detail chose to follow her in a separate taxi often leaving her with cabdrivers of Somali and Ethiopian descent one of whom Hirsi Ali claimed recognized her. Dutch authorities according to these documents were also no longer prepared to pick up the cost for securing her new apartment in Washington. Yet, the most astounding piece to come out of these documents is the fact that during one of these security-evaluation meetings Hirsi Ali was advised to seek psychiatric counseling. Hirsi Ali declined this offer – something which the government apparently was willing to fund – by replying that in case her mental condition would require ‘counseling’ she would just as well contact a good friend.