National Press Club

Advocate Says Islam Not a Religion of Tolerance

October 25, 2010

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

Islam is not a religion of tolerance, but one that defines peace as total Islamization of the world, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said at an Oct. 25 NPC luncheon.

She identified three groups of actors she said are working toward that end: One is the revolutionaries, such as Al Qaeda, who have short- term, violent goals. Another set of groups, such as the Egyptian Brotherhood, renounce violence and take a long-term "termite" approach. A third set of state actors, specifically the Organization of Islamic Conference, take both long- and short-term approaches. The Conference is an association of 56 Muslim countries, including the U.S. allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The United States focuses only on the revolutionaries, she said.

The goal of the more moderate groups is to divide and conquer, as in Europe, she said. Hirsi Ali said they they have succeeded in Europe by stigmatizing those who criticize Mohammad, as in the case of cartoonists who mocked the prophet. She saw a similarity in NPR's firing of reporter Juan Williams for comments unflattering to Muslims made on Fox News.

Hirsi Ali advocated that Americans educate the Muslim communities by showing them alternatives to the concepts of Islam. She said people need a god, that atheism is not appealing to most people. Saying that "Mankind creates God," meaning that people develop their religion, she commented that Christianity has evolved into a moderate religion, an alternative to dogmatic Islam.

Originally from Somalia, Hirsi Ali grew up in Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya. She entered the Netherlands as a refugee to escape an arranged marriage. Formerly a member of the Dutch parliament, she collaborated with Theo Van Gogh on a film about Muslim mistreatment of women. Van Gogh was subsequently killed by an extremist objecting to his association with Hirsi Ali.

In the United States, Hirsi Ali has established the AHA foundation whose mission, she said, is to protect U.S. Muslim women from female circumcision, honor killings and forced marriages. She cited several examples of honor killings of women by male relatives within the United States.

-- Lorna Aldrich,