Brandeis Snubs Ayaan Hirsi Ali


This is simply outrageous. Via The Times of Israel (thanks to Colnago80 for sharing the link):

After taking heat from some of its own over a decision to grant an honorary degree to an advocate for Muslim women who has made comments critical of Islam, Brandeis University withdrew the planned honor Tuesday night.

The university said in a statement that Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali would no longer receive the honor at the May 18 commencement.

Ali, a member of the Dutch Parliament from 2003 to 2006, has been quoted as making comments critical of Islam. That includes a 2007 interview with Reason Magazine in which she said of the religion, “Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace. I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars.”

Brandeis, outside Boston in Waltham, Mass., said it was not aware of Ali’s statements earlier.

This is only another sign of how tough it is for ex-Muslims – I can’t believe anyone would have cared if an ex-Christian or an ex-Jew had said these about those religions. She is a brave and outspoken defender of women’s rights – but I guess fighting FGMs is less important than making sure that the tender hearts of Muslims is not hurt by criticism. Brandeis University is cowardly, lying, (how the hell could they not know Ali was critical of Islam?), and pathetic.

You know what, Brandeis? Your loss. She would give more credit to your lousy doctorate than you would give her.

I’m angry.

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About Kaveh Mousavi

Kaveh Mousavi is the pseudonym of an atheist ex-Muslim living in Iran, subject to one of the world’s remaining theocracies. He is a student of English Literature, an aspiring novelist, and part-time English teacher. He is passionate about politics, video games, heavy metal music, and cinema. He was born at the tenth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. He has ditched the Islamic part, but has kept some of the revolutionary spirit.

  • Infidel753

    You’re right to be angry, and right to brand them liars. I’ve read her books. She’s not just critical of Islam, she’s one of the most persuasive and effective critics of Islam. Anyone who was at all familiar with her work would know this. It undoubtedly accounts for that “heat from some”, as it accounts for the death threats she’s faced for most of her adult life.

    I can only hope that their cowardice will backfire, bringing embarrassment to them and more attention to Hirsi Ali’s writings.

  • colnago80

    Right on Kaveh! This is a disgrace for a nominally Jewish institution named after the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandais, (only the second individual of that persuasion to serve on the court) a strong supporter of the 1st amendment to the US Constitution. Dr. Ali, having been subjected to a female circumcision procedure, has more reason to be negative about Islam then most of her male counterparts (by the way, it is my information that this procedure is nowhere called for in the Quran).

    Just for your information, the school where I was awarded my PhD in physics awarded an honorary PhD to Dr. Mary Calderone, at my graduation ceremony, who was a strong advocate for women’s health issues, including contraception, sex education, and abortion. I don’t recall the Raping Children Church raising any objection at the time.

  • gc

    Any large funding sources involved?

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      I don’t know.

  • lancifer

    Shame on them. Snubbing intellectual honesty to protect religious bigotry.

    No doubt done in the name of multiculturalism and religious “tolerance”.

  • Al

    Hirsi Ali a women’s rights campaigner? To an extent. But Hirsi Ali also strives to prevent Muslim women escaping dire straits from seeking asylum in the West. The womenfolk of Islam, she confides, are here to “outbreed” the non-Muslims. Hardly the beliefs and actions of someone that interested in women’s rights.

    • Kaveh Mousavi

      Do you have any reliable source? If that’s true then I have some major disagreements with her (although I’d still say she’s a woman’s right activist if that were true).

      • fury

        I think he’s referring to this:

        Where she makes a straightforward comment about demography in Europe. Incidentally, she’s made a similar comment that Israel will become considerably less liberal because of the higher demography amongst the ultra-Orthodox.

        But this is all secondary. Basically, there are people who don’t like Ayaan because she puts it on the line, actually addresses real threats, and risks her neck. They don’t like that.

        • Al

          No it’s based on this

          She’s worked cosily with Geert Wilders, an anti-immigrant nativist, in the Dutch parliament to shut off the very immigration avenues which gave her a new shot at life. She’s demanded that the EU introduce quotas for the admission of immigrants on the basis of their contribution to the economy. The current system, she laments, “is designed to attract the highest number of people with truly heartbreaking stories”.

          • Fury

            So you have an article by a man known for fabricating his interviews, and you add your own fabrications to that too.

            Yeah, I’m not surprised people like you hate Ayaan.

          • Al

            Oh please. You’re so in denial you might as well be in Egypt.

  • nkrishna

    I’m a Brandeis student (graduate student who won’t be finishing for some unnumbered years to come; I’m also not doing anything close to social justice-related work and so am about as far away from this as it’s possible to be and still be on campus), and I wasn’t even aware of this story until I saw it trending on Facebook.

    Regardless about how you feel about AHA (and I have mixed feelings–love the work she’s done against FGM, hate how she’s found a home in the American right-wing), Brandeis shot themselves in the foot with this. With some basic Googleology, it’s easy to find an overview of her views on salient matters, including those that they rescinded the award for. At that point, it would have been easy enough to decide not to grant her the award in the first place and avoid this whole flap, so I find the argument that they weren’t aware of her views disingenuous at best.

    However, the original statement was that she was supposed to be granted the award for her work done in the area of womens’ rights, without reference to anything else. As a result of first offering the award and now rescinding it, Brandeis has granted the American right fodder for crying about “creeping Sharia” and has granted the Islamic right another win, showing that you “can’t insult the prophet.” (Literally, the Facebook trending story on this has shown only these two kinds of posts and no room for middle ground or nuanced discussion). So as far as I can tell, this has not opened a dialogue, but shuttered it. Given that other prestigious universities have granted awards to far worse people (George W. Bush and Henry Kissinger come to mind), an honorary doctorate should not be taken as an endorsement of the whole of a person’s views.

    When I first heard about this brouhaha, I wasn’t sure what to feel, but after thinking on it, I feel pretty secure in saying that my uni fucked up bad.

  • doublereed

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is far more of a controversial figure than you might imagine. The fact that she works primarily at a neoconservative think tank that engages in lots of anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic bigotry is rather distressing. Practically speaking, she would’ve institutionalized racist blockades against her earlier self.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say she was rejected for being “critical of Islam.” I do find it surprising that they retracted the gift. Her controversial views doesn’t destroy the more positive things she has done.

    • Fury

      No. It is fair to say that Brandeis is staffed with jelly-spined crawlers who are a disgrace to the name of University.

      “anti-Islamic bigotry” huh? You mean like the anti-Christian bigotry we see all over FtB? Oh, wait I forgot: attacking Christians (the people), and Christianity (the religion) is just fine – attacking Islam (the religion) is bigotry!

      Anti-immigrant, huh? Funny, I’ve never seen her say a word about Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics… but I’ll take your word for it. I’m sure she’s an awful, awful “anti-Islamic bigot”, just like that other dreadful woman, Aung San Suu Kyi.

      • doublereed

        If you haven’t heard her anti-immigrant and anti-islamic views then I’m not really sure you should be talking. No, it is not anti-Christian the way FtB is. You think I have a problem with people saying “Islam is evil” and shit like that? Please. That’s not what I’m talking about. You are ignoring her more recent work.

        Anti-Immigrant is pretty well documented, and only specifically against Muslims, where she wants extremely restrictive policies on muslim immigration.

        How about you stop being so sarcastic and look it up yourself? She works at the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think tank.

        • Al

          She has said words about Christianity. She’s promoted converting Muslims to Christianity

        • Fury

          If Ayaan Hirsi Ali feels the only people who are willing to take here in are the AEI, that is to the AEI’s credit and to the disgrace of the US left. Let me just note that the Western left has been trying to stitch her up from her first days as a campaigner for women’s rights in the Netherlands. With that kind of treatment, is it any wonder that she’s moved right?

          The “anti-immigration” thing is specifically about the dangers of islamic immigration. Having fled Shariah once, she isn’t to keen on seeing it follow her. Imagine that. That may be why she is in favour for immigrants who, like her, want to become part of the West and adopt its best values. She also puts that next to foreign aid, emphasis on integration, protection of women’s rights etc.

          • Fury

            Or to phrase it another way, AHA isn’t too keen on sharing a country with people who want to kill her. Geez, how right wing can one get…

          • doublereed

            Where in the hell did you get that “Ayaan Hirsi Ali feels the only people who are willing to take her in are the AEI”? I have seen zero evidence of such things. Where the bloody hell did you get this idea from?

          • Fury

            Funny, I’ve seen ample evidence in the general treatment of her by the left ever since she appeared on the international stage. Do go and read a little, would you? Start with the Hitch’s documentations of that.

          • doublereed

            So wait, because people on the Left treated her badly that means that Ayaan Hirsi Ali feels the only people who are willing to take her are neoconservatives???? Are you for real???

            I don’t know what I should be more offended by: the fact that you’re treating the entire Left as a monolithic entity (and yet not doing so for the Right) or the fact that you dare speak for Ayaan Hirsi Ali when she has not said such things. Both of them are incredibly offensive.

            Apparently, the very idea that she might actually agree with the neoconservatives that she hangs with hasn’t even crossed your mind.

      • doublereed

        Again, I don’t think they should’ve taken away the award because the AHA Foundation is a real accomplishment. But I’m not going to ignore her more disgraceful viewpoints.

        This is only things I discovered for myself after I read her amazing book, Infidel. I’m surprised you have so little curiosity that you simply dismiss any criticisms against her.

  • Pitchguest

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former Somali-Dutch (now American) conservative MP who, when she came to power, turned her back on immigrants and refugees and implied they didn’t belong. She publicly backed the opinion of nationalist bigots like Rita Verdonk about limited immigration (though in her book, Infidel, claims “privately” she objected, which is, of course, complete tosh) and following the Utoya massacre she wrote a speech that emphatised with the murderer. (See: “The Advocates of Silence.”)

    It’s good to object against genital mutilation, but truth be told she sickens me. A greedy, hypocritical opportunist.

    • Fury

      Yeah, I mean what has Ayaan done except stand up the grosses forms of misogyny, defend womens’ rights and the risk of her life, suffer FGM, suffer exile… Nothing much really. It’s not like she was ever offered a cup of coffee or anything.

      • Pitchguest

        I’m really sorry about her FGM, I’m really sorry about her death threats, but I am not sorry to say that her personal politics sickens me.

        Her stance on immigration, selling out her own people, shilling for the conservative party, going so far in her criticism against Islam that she felt the murderer of 77 people had just cause because the people he slaughtered in cold blood were aspiring members of what she deemed “the advocates of silence.” The whole she-bang. With that in mind, I couldn’t give a shit what she’s gone through. That she has also done great things is besides the point. If the good things she has done in your opinion overshadows the terrible things she has said, then by all means. Just know I’m not one of them.

        • Fury

          “going so far in her criticism against Islam that she felt the murderer of 77 people had just cause ”

          Except that she didn’t. Here is what actually happened: I’ve seen that interview and what she says in it is that when you have a situation where a) civilized discourse is repressed, and b) violence is indulged and excused, it won’t just be Islamic fanatics who decide to make use of option b.

          So, yeah. Try anything once, hope that it sticks. “Selling out her own people” – you know she’s not your housegirl, right?

          • Pitchguest

            “The Advocates of Silence” was a speech she held in Berlin. The transcript about the murders in Norway says, and I quote,

            Fourthly and finally, that one man who killed 77 people in Norway, because he fears that Europe will be overrun by Islam, may have cited the work of those who speak and write against political Islam in Europe and America – myself among them – but he does not say in his 1500 page manifesto that it was these people who inspired him to kill. He says very clearly that it was the advocates of silence. Because all outlets to express his views were censored, he says, he had no other choice but to use violence.


            I suggest you read the whole thing. Bring a sick bag to be on the safe side.

            And my “housegirl?” Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Magan) is of Somali descent. She vied for such harsh immigration policies that most asylum seekers would get turned away. People in the same situation she was in. People in WORSE situations she was in. I think it speaks to her integrity how she was willing to accept such appalling conduct, even when she achieved a position of power. She publicly backed the integration of these policies for YEARS, including supporting conversative nationalists like Rita Verdonk and Geert Wilders. The only reason she’s not doing it still, is because she resigned when it came to light she had lied on her asylum papers. Indeed, selling out her own people. And if not “her own people”, then at least people she ought to have had more sympathy with.

          • Fury

            If we want to talk “sick bag” I’d say the Western left’s general excuse making for, and defence of, jihad atrocities for the last decade plus is a bit more relevant. So spare me the outrage.

            Which brings me to the point: as anyone who can read that interview can see, she is not defending Breivik, she is giving an accurate representation of his views. Saying that she is defending him for doing so makes about as much sense as, oh, I don’t know, that Orwell accurately reviewed Mein Kampf made him a Nazi.

            Basically, the Western left built a huge excuse making machinery for violence and terrorism – and never asked itself what would happen on the day that people other than the jihadis decided to take advantage of that. Well, here we are. Hope you’re happy.

            And, yes, I used the term ‘housegirl’ deliberately, because that is what is going on. The attitude of the Western left to her has been “Silly little black girl. Don’t you know your place is to flatter us and promote our views, not have any of your own?” This sort of thing happens all the time – as I recall Jung Chang got that treatment for accurately describing what life under Mao was like. Kang Chol-Hwan got it for accurately describing North Korea. And so on.

          • doublereed

            Yes, we understand that you’re being a sensationalist douchebag. You don’t need to explain it.

            The criticism of the Western Left was not of the disparaging “housegirl” variety and never was. It was of the “Race Traitor,” “Uncle Tom,” and “Self-Loathing” variety. Those are still racist attacks, so I don’t know why you feel the need to lie. The fact that you can’t figure this out for yourself shows to me that you’re far more concerned about saying vicious things about the “Left” than actually making any damn sense.

          • Kaveh Mousavi

            Please don’t call others douchebag. Thanks.

    • Al

      Blaming the victims, disgusting behaviour on her part.

      • John Morales


        I’m hardly going to spend 20 minutes and more to watch some video to get some idea of what you consider justifies that remarkable claim, am I?

        (All I get from your comment is that you’re both jaundiced and lazy.


        • Kaveh Mousavi

          Please don’t call people on my blog jaundiced and crazy. Disagreements, no matter how strong, are fine, but please not resort to personal insults. Thank you very much.

          • John Morales


            Kaveh, I think you have misread me in more than one sense.

            When stating that I perceive someone being hostile and dismissive about a third party as evincing jaundice and that someone supposedly supporting that with but a naked link to some video as being lazy is seen by the host to be a personal insult rather than dismissiveness, I know I’m not somewhere where I can be tolerated without conscious self-censorship.

            This is unfortunate.

          • Al

            You can’t be bothered to watch a video and yet I’m the lazy one? Ha, couldn’t make it up.

          • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

            @Al : Twenty minutes is relatively quite a while. Quite an investment in time when people have lots of other things to do in life. Five minutes or even ten might might more reasonable to expect folks to watch. Twenty is pushing it I’d say.

            Suggestion : How ’bout ya give us a time mark of ,say, from minute X X seconds to minute Y Y seconds that you think best proves your key point against Ayaan Hirsi Ali?

            Or state exactly what you mean more precisely and then cite the video as evidence (ie. as seen here ideally with the time mark again) rather than casting vague aspersions and then throwing a long video clip at us?

        • Al

          Pitchguest has already provided the evidence. After making her tirade against the ‘advocates of silence’, she discusses Breivik and, whilst condemning his actions, she places blame for the atrocity on the victims.

  • Pitchguest

    Correction: “emphatised” should be “empathised”

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    This is the speech (a condensed version,excerpts & link via Ophelia Benson’s blog) that audience at Brandeis were barred from listening to :


    Where’s the bigotry or errors in this? Can her critics please in form us all of what exactly she said there that they find wrong and why and whether they really think it merited removing her award, treating her like dirt and barring her from saying this ?

    Seems to me, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has it got on correct here and is merely standing up strongly and brilliantly for what she believes is right.

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