Thursday, July 29, 2010
Hirsi Ali is now an atheist, BUT she believes Christianity can combat the rise of conservative Islam. she was talking Against FGM .
AYAAN Hirsi Ali is shivering in the teal, wool coat that envelopes her on this wet winter day in Sydney.
She looks bird-like. But behind the fragile-looking exterior is a steely mind that has earned her the distinction of being one of the world's most controversial writers, feminists and activists.
Somali-born Muslim Hirsi Ali was a refugee turned Dutch MP when she helped make Submission, the anti-Islamic short film that led to the assassination of its maker, Theo Van Gogh, in 2004.
Ali received death threats, exacerbated by her public rejection of Islam. Since then she has had bodyguards 24/7. Even in Sydney, plain-clothes police shadow her every move.
Hirsi Ali was eight when her family left Somalia. She was granted asylum in The Netherlands in 1992, after she ran away from an impending arranged marriage. She now lives in the US.
Hirsi Ali emphatically rejects calls in Australia to allow a limited form of female circumcision. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has discussed backing "ritual nicks", a modified form of genital mutilation.
University of Newcastle's professor of perinatal and infant psychiatry Dr Louise Newman said some doctors had been approached to perform the procedure.
Hirsi Ali, herself a victim of genital mutilation, says girls who underwent a ritual nick in hospital would probably be subjected to the more radical form anyway.
"Most parents who believe in female circumcision believe in the full form," she says. "I can understand where the Australian doctors are coming from, but it's wrong."
Hirsi Ali favours a strict detection system, where girls at risk are medically examined every 12 months to make sure they haven't been mutilated. She advocates severe penalties for parents who try to force their daughters into mutilation.
"An annual check that takes two minutes is far less traumatic than the alternative," she says. "Educating parents against the practice is also key."
Hirsi Ali has written several memoirs: Infidel, The Caged Virgin and the most recent, Nomad, in which she recounts her life after breaking with her family, her religion and how she struggled to be educated and assimilate into Western society.
"I had to learn to question, to fight for my rights and not to submit to everything bad that could happen to me," she says.
Hirsi Ali urges the West to help Muslim immigrants integrate and overcome the temptation of fundamental Islam.
It's not parents putting children and vulnerable young people in ghettos, but fundamentalists who want them isolated from society.
"Fundamentalists do not want integration," she says." They teach young people that democracy, free thinking, is bad."
Hirsi Ali is now an atheist, and counts British atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins as a close friend.
But she believes Christianity can combat the rise of conservative Islam.
"Churches should do all in their power to win this battle for the souls of humans in search of a compassionate God, who now find that a fierce Allah is closer to hand," she writes in Nomad.
Thank you Margaret Colomb (Ma wa oz) in Sidney for the research..
Ambassador Lucy .s .Mashua President of Mashua's voice for the voiceless International
Assisting refugees in the US and representation in advocasy
The Global Ambassador for fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and standing up for Women’s Rights.
And the Chairperson of a worldwide campaign against FGM.