Last week, Brandeis University announced that it would be awarding honorary degrees to five notable figures, including atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali for her advocacy of women’s rights around the world:
Hirsi Ali, in her bestselling books Infidel and Nomad, made no secret of the fact that Islam, as interpreted by militants, extremists, and even (in some cases) casual believers, was not only untrue but harmful to the world. Between female genital mutilation, honor killings, the idea of martyrdom, and the murder of her friend Theo van Gogh, you can understand why she has courageously put her own life on the line to speak out against the horrors of the faith. In her mind (and many atheists agree), the problem isn’t radical Islam. It’s Islam, period. Much like how Sam Harris criticized religious moderates in The End of Faith for providing cover to the extremists, Hirsi Ali minced no words in a 2007 interview when describing her goal of trying to defeat Islam as a whole because she didn’t believe the religion of peace was capable of being saved in its current form.
Almost immediately after the announcement of her honorary degree, Muslim groups began to protest her selection.