I think it is important to take the Ayaan Hirsi Ali saga as a way to examine internal change.
Ali has always been presented as a ‘fearless woman’ who said ‘the truth’ about Muslims and would stop the Netherlands ‘sliding into dhimmitude;’ etc. Certainly her choice of friends were suspect sometimes.
Whatever her detractors say, society certainly needs people who stick their neck out and say what they feel at the risk of antagonising relations. We need the BNP as much as we need the likes Harold Pinter. We also need the likes of Ali because she stopped Netherlands from bending over backwards excessively in the name of political correctness.
Let’s not gloss over the fact that there is still widespread instances of female genital mutilation and wife-beating in the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America. Domestic abuse is a serious problem in this country too. Ali may have lied about her personal circumstances but she did not make up the death threats.
But what Ali did was take advantage of the anti-Muslim climate, conjure up a story that would play well with them, and exploit them for her own agenda. It says more about those ‘anti-dhimmis’ because they want to hang on to what she said, rather than accept she simply lied to get in. If her political leanings went the other way they would be up in arms. they are the ones being taken for a ride.
The bigger question is how do you deal with such hardline ‘reformers’. There are still too many people who respond to any insults with death-threats and violence, as Fe’reeha points out below.
The problem for us who refuse to take a hardline against anyone is this. We know that if you want to reform a system, to attack it without knowing anything about it and demonising the people involved doesn’t work. It is a tactic that rapidly pushes you into the arms of people with ulterior motives and produces an ‘us and them’ barrier that becomes stronger than get broken down.
We know that change has to come, but it must do so on a platform of empowerment, not demonising. Ali did nothing to help the Muslim women who need power to reform their communities. She made it harder for them to stand up and take the middle ground.
If we all stood on a podium and waxed lyrically about how rubbish Asian values and culture was – nothing would change. And we can’t do that anyway, we still belong to that world.
Maybe it was the right time. Netherlands stopped letting in the religious fanatics who simply wanted to get on social security, but relations between Christian and Muslim Dutch people could never improve with a person so hell-bent on demonising all of them.
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Filed in: Current affairs,Race politics