Saturday, December 16, 2006

But I pray to Allah that ...

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was 24 before she found out about the Holocaust. She was studying a preparatory history course in Holland at the time, and what she had discovered, she told her half-sister, 21, and showed her the photographs in her history book. Her half-sister's reaction was

It's a lie! Jews have a way of blinding people. They were not killed, gassed nor massacred. But I pray to Allah that one day all the Jews in the world will be destroyed.
Ali's point is that her half-sister's reaction would be the reaction of anyone educated as they had been by the Saudi's or on Saudi charity anywhere in the Islamic world.
Jews were said to be responsible for the deaths of babies, epidemics like AIDS, for the cause of wars. They were greedy and would do absolutely anything to kill us Muslims. And if we ever wanted to know peace and stability we would have to destroy them before they would wipe us out. For those of us who were not in a position to take arms against the Jews it was enough for us to cup our hands, raise our eyes heavenward and pray to Allah to destroy them.
She asks (rhetorically) why, in the face of Ahmadinejad's conference, there are no counter-voices raised in the Arab world, why Islamic philanthropy must carry with it the germ of virulent anti-semiticism and why Western charities do not attempt to tell the truth about the last attempt to 'solve the Jewish problem'.


wodge said...

Ah yes, the famous Ayaan Hirsi Ali! The phrase, "Liar, liar, pants on fire" springs to mind.

The sudden fall from grace of Dutch Muslim MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali offers a cautionary tale about Western gullibility in these Islamophobic times.

She has been exposed as the equivalent of such Iraqi exiles as Ahmad Chalabi and Iyad Allawi. They told the tall tales the Bush administration wanted to hear to wage war. She told the stories the Dutch, and many Europeans, craved, to confirm their anti-Muslim prejudices.

Like the Iraqi exiles, she knew exactly which buttons to push.

She was an abused wife who had fled a forced marriage and also her vengeful family and clan. An "ex-Muslim," she was out to liberate Muslim women and tame Islam to her liking and those of her benefactors.

She wrote and narrated the Theo Van Gogh documentary Submission about the subjugation of Muslim women that led to his murder and to death threats against her, placing her under 24-hour guard.

Along the way she let it be known she had lied about her name, age and how she had entered Holland in 1992, not directly from her homeland of Somalia but via Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Germany, a fact that would have undermined her claim, rather than expedited it.

The Dutch didn't mind. Many refugee claimants embellish their stories. Besides, she was a heroine they had embraced, a "moderate" Muslim waging war against "fanatical" believers.

To her detractors, hers was a case, at best, of bitter personal experience passed off as the norm for all Muslims, and, at worst, relentless self-promotion that had won her fame and invitations from such places as Toronto during the so-called sharia debate and to the U.S. to bask in the company of Dick Cheney and Bernard Lewis.

Her well-ordered world came crashing down recently when a TV documentary suggested her entire claim to stardom was a fraud; not only had there been no forced marriage and no family vendetta but that she enjoyed good relations with her family and husband, both before and after settling in Holland.

Professor Jytte Klausen of Brandeis University, author of The Islamic Challenge: Politics and Religion in Western Europe, who knows Hirsi Ali and has followed her case closely, said in a telephone interview Thursday:

"She wasn't forced into a marriage. She had an amicable relationship with her husband, as well as with the rest of her family. It was not true that she had to hide from her family for years."

Why, then, has her estranged/former husband not spoken up?

"Because Hirsi Ali has asked him not to. They parted company amicably."

The revelation, Klausen said, proved the last straw for Ali's colleagues in government.

The ruling right-wing VVD party was already running out of patience with her, not because it had discovered multicultural tolerance or political correctness but because "it was just tired of her jumping up like a jack-in-a-box" anytime anyone poked holes in her neatly knitted tale or differed with her.

For example, when a government think-tank issued a report last month puncturing the prevailing anti-Islamic orthodoxy, she accused its authors of "sticking their heads in the sand."

The Scientific Council for Government Policy had simply stated the obvious: Islam, like any religion, has many strands, conservative to liberal, with varying attitudes toward gender parity, and that Muslim nations "do not satisfy contemporary international standards on democracy and human rights, (but) in this, they do not differ from many other developing countries."

The council also condemned "the climate of confrontation and stereotypical thinking," the turf Hirsi Ali plays on.

The jig is up for Hirsi Ali in Holland. She may move to the U.S., as a fellow at the neo-con American Enterprise Institute.

She would be welcomed in certain circles, which, Klausen warned, "want to see in American politics the development of a kind of Islam-bashing we've seen in Europe for a while."

The American ambassador to The Hague has already met her to pave the way.

She and the Bush administration may deserve each other.

Also, it goes without saying that she is fully entitled to her views, however provocative.

The problem lies elsewhere — in the readiness of the paranoiac post-9/11 world to hear and believe the worst about Muslims and Islam. Hirsi Ali is just one of many to cater to that demand.

NoolaBeulah said...

You argument is entirely ad hominem and does not address in any way the issues raised. The inference we are supposed to make from your words is that because she has lied in the past, she is therefore lying now. Not exactly logical. A more logical conclusion would be that maybe her assertions about Arab/Islamic education should be checked, but since you didn't do that, we are left with the attack on the person.

The lies. The substantiated lies concerned her full name, her date of birth and that "she had entered Holland in 1992, not directly from her homeland of Somalia but via Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Germany, a fact that would have undermined her [refugee status] claim, rather than expedited it". The first two she had admitted herself in a book in 2002 and in interviews. Furthermore, she had informed party officials of all the circumstances of her arrival in Holland in the same year when they asked her to stand for Parliament.

What were the exact circumstances of that arrival, or rather, of its prelude. There we are in difficulty. On the one hand, there is her family who when interviewed for the Zembla documentary claimed she had not been forced to marry a stranger, was present for her wedding and had not needed to fear retribution from her family. There is also Professor Jytte Klausen of Brandeis University, who claims to know her well and who backed the family version. On the other, Hirsi Ali denies all this and is supported by her brother. As a complete outsider (as I assume you are too), I can't see how we can come down on the side of one or the other in these questions without a lot more evidence. All the parties are defending their own positions, including the Professor, who sees herself as a defender of moderate Islam and wants to see istitutional changes in European countries to enable better integration. She does not like provocation of Muslim sensibilities. Ali is a living provocation of those sensibilities. In conclusion, all we have is some people saying that she lied about these things and some others that she didn't. Neither position can be proved or disproved.

So "Liar, liar, pants on fire" does seem just a little over-wrought since it regards a person who
-told some lies on a specific occasion to gain refugee status and admitted doing so before anyone else had said anything
-asserts certain things about her background that other interested parties deny.
That's it.

Now, concerning the points she raises. See here, here and here.

wodge said...

Most of her writings seem to spout the same half truths and misinformation that the neocons, "clash of civilisation"ists and closet racists seems to babble on about endlessly, so excuse me if I take her last diatribe with a pinch of salt.

As for the links you gave one is on Wikipedia (not renouned for it's accuracy) and the other two are on pro-israeli websites which might again be a teeny weeny bit biased.

NoolaBeulah said...

This seems to be a circular argument. If certain people ("neocons, "clash of civilisation"ists and closet racists") speak about Islam, it is therefore to be discounted. (How do you identify a "closet racist"? They criticise Islam?) But once again the issue is avoided.

Remove the name of the speaker and ask yourself this question: Is what she said likely to be true? Or to approach it from another direction: given what we know, could she be telling the truth?

What do we know? For example, that there are large masses of people ready to react in irrational, hysterical and even violent ways over very little. There are masses of people ready to shout with one voice even when they don't understand what they are shouting about, or have no direct experience of it. The two most obvious examples are the Danish cartoons affair and the Pope's Regensburg Address. How do you explain that? (Imagine trying to get that number of English people out on the streets over such things.)

What Ali says does help to explain the phenomenon at least insofar as the sort of education she describes does not help people develop any critical skills but only tribal identity. It is unsurprising that it is only media outlets of a certain colour that publicise this, but there is indirect support lent by the general economic and cultural state of those parts of the world where this education is dominant. Unless you're going to fall back on it all being the fault of the Americans/West/Israel, at a certain point you have to look at internal reasons and explanations for what is undeniably out there.

wodge said...

Some interesting reading here and here about the whole text book scam.

NoolaBeulah said...

Wodge, I looked into the claims made by the first article and they seem to be well-founded. This speech by Georg Eckert to a German organisation that specialises in textbooks (!) goes into more detail and it is scholarly rather than polemical. He confirms the malicious intent of the report delivered by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace. He speculates that the bitterness of the Intifada, which broke out just after the publication of the primary school textbooks may have had something to do, if not with the motivations of CMIP, at least with the way the issue became so hot. The speech is also interesting for the details he gives of the intra-Palestinian arguments about the syllabus.

One counter point. The quotes given here by MEMRI from Islamic Culture for Eleventh Grade, a PA textbook published in 2003, (ie after Eckert's speech) do seem to raise the same issues as the original 'scam' controversy. You will dismiss the source, but it is very difficult, as I have said before, to get independent verification in any of these stories.

The second piece you link to, insofar as it repeats the same information, is all right. But for the rest, it's the usual you too! polemic that goes nowhere.

One further point. This discussion started with Hirsi Ali's description of her education in the 80s and 90s. That is, in a period when the Palestinian education system matched the sort of system she went through. Palestinian education changed enormously after 1998, but only through the application of peculiar pressures, not present elsewhere.