Archive for the ‘Ayaan Hirsi Ali’ Category
Good news – the interior ministers of EU countries have unanimously agreed at a meeting to protect people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, with the host nation paying the costs.
However the UK government is raising “practical” objections to providing such immediate protection. In which case perhaps it should be sorted out exactly how we are going to operate such protection procedures.
Franco Frattini, the the European commissioner for justice and home affairs commented:
“This is a new decision,” Frattini said, declaring that no new laws were necessary to try to guarantee the safety of Hirsi Ali and others in similar situations. “If we need a law to guarantee the right to life, we’re in a difficult position. We have the decision based on mutual trust.”
While the Members of the European Parliament petition to create a universal fund for protection may have helped in this decision (only one MEP got back to me out of seven saying he would sign the petition) it has to be born in mind this decision is one of intent.
While I am sure that there are issues that the UK may be right to highlight, if the EU is going to really guarantee the freedoms of its member citizens to move around without risk to life because they are targeted, these obstacles can be overcome with enough political will.
It would be a shame if the fear of the anti EU lobby in the UK scuppered this agreement. This measure is one that is needed. It shows the benefits of co-operation where enlightenment values can be defended by nation states. But it may help that there is a legal obligation of member states to offer such immediate protection.
The moral case may not be enough.
Quote from The Guardian that can be found here.
My Labour MEP is getting back to me by post, but the Conservative one has e mailed thanking me for telling him and saying he will sign the petition today in the European Parliament to protect people like Ayaan.
Still waiting for a response from the Liberal Democrat MEP. These were the only ones to give their e mail addresses. Need a new printer which I shall get tomorrow for the others that do not list them.
You can see the comments on the richarddawkins.net site here.
Reposted from BBC NEWS website:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch MP and outspoken critic of Islam, has appealed to the EU to create a fund to help protect people in her position.She told the European Parliament in Brussels her life was in greater danger because the Dutch government had stopped paying for her security.
“I don’t want to die, I want to live and I love life,” she said.
Ms Ali added that the cost of her bodyguards was beyond anything a private person could raise.
The Somali-born former MP has been living under police protection since the murder of Dutch film-maker Theo Van Gogh by an Islamic extremist in 2004.
She was threatened in a note left on his body for writing the script for Van Gogh’s Submission – a highly controversial film alleging that women were being abused under Islam.
But she left the Netherlands for the United States in 2006 after a political row in which she admitted lying in her Dutch asylum request.
She now works for a conservative think-tank in the US and the Dutch government has said it can no longer justify paying for her security.
Ms Ali said she had been working full-time on raising funds.
Dozens of MEPs have signed a declaration backing the creation of a fund.
But for the initiative to become official, half of the parliament’s 785 will have to back the petition.
Earlier this week she announced she was seeking French citizenship.
She said the campaign for her to receive honorary French citizenship was being spearheaded by a group of French intellectuals and was supported by the country’s political leaders.
“Europe needs to defend her because she has defended Europe,” French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy told MEPs.
To contact your Member of European Parliament (MEP) follow this link:
choose language and at the top there should be a “Your MEPs” at the top which will let you find your representive.
I have just e mailed three of my MEP’s for my region. Will publish their replies (should I get any!). My e mail was:
As a resident of the East Midlands I am writing to you about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and people in similar circumstances in Europe.
She was the screen writer for the Dutch film “Submission” that examined women and Islam; the director Van Gogh was brutally murdered and attached to his chest was a note saying Ayaan would be next. The Dutch Parliament have backed out on a promise to pay for her security, and she recently appeared before the European Parliament to advocate a fund that would help to protect people like herself who are under threat.
When I was in Washington DC in the fall last year I had the pleasure of meeting her, and her attendance at the conference there was nearly cancelled due to the death threats being issued. As a private citizen she does not have the means to pay for her security, and while I hope France will be able to take on the charge to protect her if she obtains honorary citizenship the need for such funding for individual’s security should be available if it is not forthcoming when the need is a matter of life and death.
I would strongly urge you to back the petition before the European Parliament in the creation of such a fund.
More on the story can be found on the BBC News link here.
In the USA there is I think something that may unite the Religious Right and the Secularist community – a fear that Europe is being swallowed up by Islam. The Archbishop’s comments that Sharia Law should have an accommodation in UK law, and other examples do seem to add to that perception – and it is one played on in Europe by anti immigration parties.
One such Dutch politician is Wilders who has spoken about making a film that will depict him decimating the Koran. Which if he did it would be nothing new – youtube has plenty of films of people doing that. How analytical such a film about the Koran will be I am not sure, but the background of course is that four years ago the Dutch film “Submission” was shown on Dutch TV and the director of the film Theo van Gogh was stabbed to death with a letter between his dead body and blade stating that the screenplay writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali would be next.
Now I am concerned with how some people want to accommodate Islam. That women are given less human rights due to their cultural tradition (a German court ruled that a woman was correctly beaten according to cultural custom but thankfully that decision was overturned). If this is multiculturalism, then it needs to be defeated because it allows people to be treated differently, against the notion of justice as fairness, and leads to the treatment of people that would not be allowed by law on other citizens.
However there is a fight back – witness the condemnation that met the very surprised Bishop of Canterbury (as parts of the Anglican community may refer to him when the schism is complete). Then there is Ayaan herself who though her life is under threat while she lives in the USA, speaks out but with authority because she has has lived it. Sam Harris in “End of Faith” in a chapter talks about the concerns of a literalistic interpretation of Islam.
Tolerance is a wonderful thing, but it does not cover everything. Some things will be beyond a society to accept, the question is only if there is a moral basis. Ethical consideration would be to do with harm and suffering, and the welfare of people. As such, for example, decisions based on divorce and financial arrangements which did not consider genders to be equal parties would be a cause for concern.
However, the xenophobia that exists is out of proportion to the threat posed, which is more within their own community then to wider society. That of genital mutilation, less likely for women to be educated or fluent in the native tongue, and customs such as honour killings which do not deserve the adjective. 7/7 happened, but much of that is ignoring what was happening within a community until it was too late.
In a global communication network, it will be difficult to censor the message of hate that Islamic fundamentalists use. Yet we can perhaps counter their message of hate, with rational passionate discourse about the benefits of human rights and liberal democracy. Hate crimes that encourage harm and the breaking of the law require zero tolerance.
Because it seems the key opponents in politics of Islam are the xenophobic politicians. The other politicians in power seem keen to move public policy to an accommodation with “moderate” faith groups in an attempt to take the sting out of the tail of extremist belief – based on fear. Few of political standing seem able to create a vision of an open country that will stand up for liberal values with a veer and vigour. They seem prepared to sacrifice these values for a better nights sleep after an election, reducing liberties and allowing values out of step with a modern state.
If I am wrong, by all means link them here in the comments – I would like to hear such politicians who will stand up for such values. I doubt that it will be popular with the electorate though it may be correct. But the case has yet to be made in the manner like below:
We live but a brief existence on this earth. We want the best for ourselves and our children. It is part of the human identity to better ourselves. By education. By hard work. The will to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. Much do we owe to those that came before us and may we strive that the future generation will say the same of us.
When people overcome obstacles and hardship to come here to make such a better life for themselves, to become a productive member of society that they become as one with us – this is a cause of celebration that the liberty and opportunity that we have created attracts such people that add to both commercial wealth and spirit in the land.
This does not mean that the light of liberty, freedom and opportunity that attracts so many to our shores should be dimmed on the say so of those that would replace our ancestors hard won rights with customs and beliefs that go against enlightenment values. Nor should we let mistrust and hatred allow us equally to do away those same values that allow us the freedoms to be who we are. Let us not sleep walk into thinking these rights are everlasting; may we ever be watchful of the demagogue that will promise us something with one hand while taking away the rights that gave us everything we love and appreciate. Rights that make our country great.
All equal before the law, the right to be tried by your peers, the right to a fair trial, the freedom to religious belief and none, that your private life is yours, the freedom to speak your mind and be challenged in that opinion, that all have the liberty to make their own way in this life and that by doing so shall the greater good be best served within such laws that are in accordance to the common good.
Sam Harris has done a FAQ about Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
1. As a bestselling author, can’t Ayaan Hirsi Ali afford to pay for her own protection?
For security reasons, I cannot give specific information about the arrangements that have been made for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but I can say that the average security costs for people with similar security profiles can be in excess of two million dollars per year. Needless to say, very few writers sell enough books to cover such an extraordinary expense (and Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not among them).
This might seem like an outrageous sum to spend so that one woman can safely stand at a university lectern and speak about the power of reason and the rights of little girls—and it is an outrageous sum and an outrageous circumstance. It is, of course, galling that a mere advocate of human rights and basic rationality should require special protection in the United States. But this is simply a fact of life in a world where freedom of speech and conscience falls ever more under the shadow of Muslim fanaticism. In my opinion, there is no one making a more heroic effort to change this fact than Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
2. In your original appeal, you wrote that “if every reader of this email simply pledged ten dollars a month to protect Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the costs of her security would be covered for as long as the threat to her life remains.” How can you say this if you don’t know how far the email has spread? And if you only need $10 from each person why does the security page have options to give as much as $1000 per month?
The idea of offering a monthly subscription was to allow everyone to make a meaningful contribution to Ms. Hirsi Ali’s protection. Given what I know about the general costs of security, and the fact that the original email went out to over 15,000 people, it was correct to say that Ms. Hirsi Ali’s needs would be largely met if everyone gave $10 a month indefinitely. However, the truth is that only about half of the people receiving the email will open it; fewer will read it; and fewer still will donate.
I would be extremely happy if we could meet Ms. Hirsi Ali’s security needs in a grassroots way, with small donations, but this is not realistic. Protecting her will require some much larger gifts of money. Such gifts are still needed and actively being sought.
3. Aren’t there more important causes to support than the protection of Ayaan Hirsi Ali?
There are countless worthy targets for our generosity. Whether it is helping to alleviate hunger in the developing world or building a new pediatric hospital in the United States, one must choose between absolute need and absolute need, and such choices often defy rational justification.
Allow me to briefly make the case, however, that in this wilderness of competing needs and limited resources, the ongoing protection of Ayaan Hirsi Ali deserves our special commitment. In fact, few projects represent such a perfect marriage of moral and intellectual necessity. While the threat of Muslim extremism still seems distant to many of us living in the developed world, I think it is the one problem that has the potential to suddenly eclipse all others.
When one considers the cascading effects of what 19 jihadists did with box-cutters on September 11th, 2001–now measured in the trillions of dollars–it is difficult to imagine how the world might look after a single incident of nuclear terrorism. I think it is safe to say, however, that if we do suffer even one such attack, global warming will seem the least of our concerns. For this reason, I think that the superstition and bigotry that currently plagues Muslim communities, East and West, is the most pressing issue of our time. I know of no person better placed to awaken the world to the scope of this growing emergency than Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
4. Might this just be a waste of money? Do bodyguards actually make a difference?
Anyone who doubts the effectiveness of professional security should remember that Ms. Hirsi Ali’s colleague, Theo van Gogh, having declined diplomatic protection of his own, was immediately murdered on an Amsterdam street. It is true that no security can be perfect, especially when one’s enemies are willing to commit suicide. But the fact that U.S. diplomats successfully travel to places like Kabul and Baghdad demonstrates that the combination of intelligence, secrecy, and armed protection can make a difference. It is safe to say that Ms. Hirsi Ali is only alive today because the Dutch gave her diplomatic protection the moment she started receiving death threats in 2002.
5. Isn’t it true that the Dutch would still protect Ayaan Hirsi Ali if she remained in Holland?
The Dutch government has said as much. But the offer does not seem to be in good faith. The threat to Ms. Hirsi Ali is actually greatest in Holland, and it is much more expensive to protect her there. In fact, the security precautions necessary to keep her safe in Holland are quite stifling. She is much better placed in the U.S. to do her work. (For more on this subject, please see the opinion piece I wrote with Salman Rushdie).
6. Why single out Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Don’t other Muslim dissidents need our support?
There surely are other Muslim dissidents who are threatened and deserve our support. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the most visible, however. In the event we raise enough money for her security, we will help others as well. Several of us are in the process of forming non-profit foundations for this larger purpose.
7. What will you do with the money, if you don’t raise enough of it?
The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust will pay for Ms. Hirsi Ali’s security until the money runs out. Hopefully we will raise enough to cover her needs indefinitely. If we do not raise enough money, and no government steps forward to offer her diplomatic protection, Ms. Hirsi Ali could be forced to stop doing her work and enter the witness protection program. Hopefully it will never come to that.
8. What will you do if you raise more money than is needed?
Given the costs of Ms. Hirsi Ali’s security, excess funds are not expected. However, if we raise enough money to cover Ms. Hirsi Ali’s security, I will send an announcement by email to every person who has donated to the Security Trust through this website. This will give people a choice about whether to continue to give to a surplus fund. I will, of course, make a similar announcement if Ms. Hirsi Ali is ever given diplomatic protection by the U.S. government (or any other).
The surplus fund will be used to support other dissidents and public intellectuals in the Muslim world – through conferences, media events, publications, or by making similar efforts to pay for their protection.
9. Ayaan Hirsi Ali works for the American Enterprise Institute—a “neoconservative” think-tank. Why should liberals support her?
Ms. Hirsi Ali’s cause transcends politics and should motivate liberals and conservatives equally. The American Enterprise Institute, to its great credit and to the enduring shame of my fellow liberals, was the only think-tank to offer Ms. Hirsi Ali a job when her security concerns finally forced her to leave Holland. Even if you find the views of certain AEI fellows as objectionable as I do, please recognize that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an independent scholar. The AEI deserves credit for having the courage and wisdom to support her. While the AEI is shouldering the burden of Ms. Hirsi Ali’s security for the time being, it cannot absorb these costs indefinitely.
10. How widely is this appeal being circulated? Is this only a secular effort, or have you reached out to Christians and moderate Muslims as well?
I’ve reached out to everyone I think could be helpful, including people like Pastor Rick Warren. I am very happy to say that Pastor Warren responded immediately (as fast as the fastest atheist) and pledged to help. I’ve also sent this appeal to my few contacts among practicing Muslims. Needless to say, I think it would be only fitting if moderate Muslims helped protect Ayaan Hirsi Ali from the immoderate ones.
11. Is there a risk that a high profile appeal such as this might be seen as a victory by the extremists who threaten Muslim apostates?
From my point of view, we don’t have the luxury of worrying about this. I think our society should be devoting immense resources to the problem of encouraging and protecting dissidents in the Muslim world. Until governments realize this, private citizens will have to do what they can. The real victory for the extremists would be if someone like Ayaan Hirsi Ali could no longer make public appearances and do her work.
12. Will you personally be giving to the Security Trust every month?
Questions about the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please have the subject line read: “Question about the Security Trust”
Go to the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust:
I had the pleasure of meeting Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the AAI conference this year – and was fortunate to get a copy of her book Infidel which people were trying to buy off me as I went to queue up to get signed. I praised her for her courage and sincerity.
That courage is going to be called on once again. The Dutch government has refused to honour a previous commitment to protect her unless she lives in Holland. Paradoxical as the security costs would actually be more if she was in Holland (as the risk would be greater there).
The risk to her life is real, but she is having to look to others to finance her security. For those that value free speech and the empowerment of women now is the time to put your money where your mouth is.
Below is an article that Sam Harris has recently written please support her:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the most prominent advocate of free speech and women’s rights in the Muslim world, and for this she must live under perpetual armed guard, even in the West. Unfortunately, on October 1st of this year, the Dutch government officially rescinded its promise to protect her. Now, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s friends, colleagues and admirers must come to her aid.
I have created a page on my website that links directly to the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust. The money raised by this trust will pay Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s security expenses. In the event that money remains after these costs have been met, it will be used to encourage and protect other dissidents in the Muslim world.
The ongoing protection of Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a moral obligation. It is also a strategic one: for here is a woman doing work that most of us cannot do–indeed, would be terrified to do if given the chance–and yet this work is essential for preserving the freedoms we take for granted in the West.
If every reader of this email simply pledged ten dollars a month to protect Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the costs of her security would be covered for as long as the threat to her life remains.
Thanks in advance for your support.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
In 2005, TIME included Ayaan Hirsi Ali in its list of the World’s 100 Most Influential People. If you would like to know more about her, please read Christopher Caldwell’s fine profile in the New York Times Magazine. You can also read the essay that Salman Rushdie and I recently published in the Los Angeles Times, or the one that Christopher Hitchens wrote for Slate.
It is ironic that one of the reasons I have not been blogging is that I am reading “Infidel” – and yet the Dutch government while I was reading this book have decided to remove the protection for the author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, without ensuring that there is adequate protection for her life.
While at the AAI Conference, as we were working on the RDFRS stall we were told of the concerns to her life, and indeed to us all by being there to listen to her. It really was a close call whether she would even speak. The security guys were worn because they took no chances, even searching me with my RDFRS staff T shirt escorting Hitchens, also checked, when it was time for him to talk. Some people were giving them a hard time when all they had done was popped to the bathroom. One of the reasons I dedicated the “Police Question Atheists!” blog to them. The threat was very real and those guys did a great job.
She was the next speaker after Hitchens. Her life and story is one that has to be shared, and her life one that has to be protected because what she talks about we all need to hear. Even those that want to silence her need to hear it. All of us must play a part in making sure it does not fall on death ears. That we believe in empowering women whatever someone’s “cultural tradition” may say.
If you do one thing, please sign the petition for her to get immediate security:
If you do a second thing, read the article by Sam Harris and Salmon Rushdie:
Thirdly, at your leisure buy and read “Infidel” which was sold out at the AAI Conference and people wanted to buy my copy so she could sign it. Which is my most treasured book at the moment. And I know Dawkins, who wants to nominate her for the Noble Peace Prize, would not mind me saying that.