Sunday, February 04, 2007

Pascal Bruckner on Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

Not without perfidy, Ian Buruma denies Ayaan Hirsi Ali the right to refer to Voltaire. Voltaire, he writes, confronted one of the most powerful institutions of his time, the Catholic Church, while Hirsi Ali contents herself with offending "a vulnerable minority in the heart of Europe." (5) However, this statement disregards the fact that Islam has no borders: the Muslim communities of the Old World are backed up by a billion faithful. Crisscrossed by diverse currents, they can either become the advance wing of a fundamentalist offensive or exemplify a type of religiosity more in harmony with reason. Far from being a negligible affair, this is one of the major challenges of the 21st century!

It's not enough that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has to live like a recluse, threatened with having her throat slit by radicals and surrounded by bodyguards. She - like the French philosophy professor Robert Redeker who has also been issued death threats on Islamicist websites - has to endure the ridicule of the high-minded idealists and armchair philosophers. She has even been called a Nazi in the Netherlands. (6) Thus the defenders of liberty are styled as fascists, while the fanatics are portrayed as victims!

An assuaging rhetorical language replaces the respect and compassion that were originally supposed to be cultivated by Multiculturalism. A cage of words and thoughts was clamped down on free exchange of ideas and sentiments. Ayaan Hirsi Ali's project, of exposing Islamic practices and values in conflict with the ethics and praxis of a liberal society, is mocked by her critics, who consider her a fanatic convert to secularism: Garton Ash : "Ayaan Hirsi Ali is now a brave, outspoken, slightly simplistic Enlightenment fundamentalist."

I had to re-read this statement a few times in order to believe that I was reading it correctly. One can almost hear the disdainful drawl, in the elegant attempt to shrivel her into her right place. As though marveling at her audacity in getting Voltaire's words to explain her position.

Bruckner's article is worth reading to the end.


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