Ayaan Hirsi Ali And The Cost Of Speaking Up Against Islamism

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Author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali has cancelled her Australian and New Zealand speaking tour, citing ‘security concerns’ according to reports:

Ali said in a statement she regretted that, “for a number of reasons including security concerns”, she had to cancel her upcoming appearances.

“She is very disappointed indeed about this but was left with no alternative following a succession of organisational lapses on the part of the event organisers, Think Inc,” the statement read.

She was due to speak at events in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland. Leading up to the scheduled talks, petitions were signed and anti-Ayaan videos were made. Labels such as ‘hate speech’, ‘Islamophobe’ and ‘white supremacy’ were invoked in order to mask what amounts to an attempt to enforce Islamic blasphemy law.

This all took place to the backdrop of Islamists in Australia being exposed for advocating death for those who leave Islam, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali did.

A vocal and well known ex-Muslim critic of Islam, it should surprise no one that Hirsi Ali requires constant armed security. You may recall the murder of her friend, Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh at the hands of a Muslim fanatic in 2004. Van Gogh had worked with Hirsi Ali on a movie highlighting the abuse faced by women living under Islam. He paid for it with his life.

The killer pinned a note to Van Gogh’s body – with a knife. It was addressed to, and aimed death threats at Ayaan Hirsi Ali specifically.

In a conversation I recorded with American talk show host Dave Rubin, he told me that Hirsi Ali was unable to reveal so much as the state she was located in when appearing on his show via video link –  such are the precautions she must take for having the ‘wrong’ opinions on the religion of peace.

If one spends their time voicing the opinion that Islam has a problem with extremism, then finds themselves under armed protection as a consequence – you’d think people may be more willing to concede she could be on to something.

I don’t think it would be unreasonable to speculate that the ‘organisational lapses’ referenced in the above statement from Hirsi Ali may relate to the security measures at the planned events. As reported in The Herald Sun, the event insurers were contacted by protestors and warned:

…there could be trouble, and venues where she was scheduled to speak had been contacted and warned that there would be protests where she was due to appear.

Much of this was done by an individual called Syed Murtaza Hussain of the Council for the Prevention of Islamophobia Inc.

He informed Festival Hall in Melbourne there would be 5000 protesters outside the venue if the engagement went ahead.

The cost of the security required to manage such numbers would have to be picked up by the event organisers. According to Journalist and associate of Charlie Hebdo Caroline Fourest, because of Charlie Hebdo’s lampooning of Islam, security costs spiralled:

“The assassins have already won in a number of ways: In Europe, or even the USA, it is no longer possible to organize a simple conference, or even a debate, on freedom of expression and Charlie, without the kind of police protection we see in war movies. These security measures are costly, as much as $20,000 to protect just one person from Charlie giving a talk at an American university. In France and most other European countries security is guaranteed by the State, which maintains public order and safeguards our freedoms. At conferences I have attended in England, however, I learned that the police charge the organizers for protection. Democracy, yes, but only for those that can foot the bill” 1

Caroline wrote these words in the book ‘In praise of blasphemy : Why Charlie Hebdo is not “islamophobic” after Islamic fundamentalists gunned down 12 of her friends at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in France. This was done in retaliation to satirical cartoons drawn at the expense of Islam’s prophet.

Indeed, during a conversation I recorded with Caroline, she told me that publishers would not stock or produce a physical version of her book due to fear of reprisals. It remains available for Kindle however.

Australia is also a place where event organisers, rather than the state, are expected to foot the bill for security. The sad reality is, if those possessing the courage to speak up against Islamism can survive the very real threats on their lives and the endless smearing of their reputations, they may just discover they have been priced out of the conversation too.

It’s now almost too dangerous (and expensive) to hold an open, public debate on Islam in non-Muslim majority countries. If Muslim communities wish to combat the suspicion and distrust they are subjected to, it’d be my suggestion they should consider becoming more vocal in opposition to the deeply illiberal and anti-free speech attitudes of their fellow religionists. If this was done with even half the conviction they muster for cartoons, hurt feelings and opinions critical of their faith, it really would be something to behold.

Liberals and feminists around the world should be outraged at the betrayal of Ayan Hirsi Ali.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

  1. In praise of blasphemy : Why Charlie Hebdo is not “islamophobic”.

3 comments

  • Nothing much to add on Ayaan, but I presume she gets a lot more opprobrium because of the ex-Muslim thing, and possibly because she’s a woman.

    The word “Islamophobia” as well as physical violence, has actually won so far.

    Part of that has been propped up by our own media. There are some journalists who should hang their heads in shame. In thinking they are protecting “All Muslims” (a noble thing on the face of it) they also protect the loons (an obviously daft thing), and seemingly have zero way of recognising any sort of difference. If anything, they are the ones guilty of lumping all Muslims into one bucket, while some of us realise the very obvious thing of a broad range, but which at the moment, contains a big problem – the proportions of which I am struggling to understand..

  • Every country with a growing Muslim population is in big trouble, like they’ve all been invaded and we all observe with deep concern and horror the unstoppable march and tightening grip of Islam’s purpose-built theocratic fascism, where pseudo is the theocratics, all too real is the fascism.

    Our main hope appears to be a growing Populism, ludicrously labelled far right by the idiot ideologues in control of everything. Yep, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is my kind of white supremacist.

    Happy Easter, everyone.

  • I’ve had an exchange on Facebook with the Sherene Hassan, the person who appears to have helped organise the petition opposing Ayaan’s visit.
    I’ve tried to be calm and measured in those interactions and to explain why, in Australia, it’s just not on for someone to be de-platformed just because others don’t agree with the speaker’s point of view.
    Naturally, everything I say is wrong and Ms Hirsi Ali is a liar and the equivalent of a white supremacist – as well at completely misrepresenting Islam.
    My last comment on the thread exposed me as an atheist. I also placed Islam’s ‘holy’ book in the fiction category.
    It shouldn’t be the case that I hold a small amount of concern about whether my home location can be discovered by anyone associated with that page who might find my comment highly offensive and blasphemous. But I do.
    I would urge any of your readers to NOT go to the page to harrass any commenters on there. Rational and calm dialogue with these apparently non-radical Muslims is, IMO, the only way to go no matter how angry I may be – and I am – about the cancellation of AYT’s speaking tour.

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