In 2004, as a Dutch parliamentarian, Ayaan Hirsi Ali took her “Dutch mother” to lunch at the Dudok brasserie, near the Parliament in The Hague. As always, Hirsi Ali’s armed security detail was there. They have been her companions since she started receiving death threats in September 2002. Hirsi Ali, who was born in Somalia and has been a member of the Dutch Parliament since January 2003, had endorsed the view that Islam is a backward religion, condemned the way women live under it and said that by today’s standards, the prophet Muhammad would be considered a perverse tyrant. She had also announced that she was no longer a believing Muslim. The punishment for such apostasy is, according to strict interpretations of Islam, death. That day at the Dudok, several dozen vocational students were taking up the main restaurant, so she and her guards parked at two tables near the bar. Hirsi Ali had her back to the restaurant when one of the students, apparently a Dutch convert to Islam, tapped her on the shoulder. ”I turned around,” she recalls in her elegant English, ”and saw this sweet, young Dutch guy, about 24 years old. With freckles! And he was like, ‘Madam, I hope the mujahedeen get you and kill you.’ ” Hirsi Ali handed him her knife and told him, ”Why don’t you do it yourself?”
Upon her arrival in America a Pittsburgh imam threatened to kill her.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s foundation is teaching educators and law enforcement how to recognize warning signs of ‘honor violence’ in U.S. immigrant communities. Recently, Hirsi Ali participated in the movie Honor Diaries that explores the brutality and inequality women face in the Muslim world.
Because of her tremendous courage and brutally honest critique of the horrific treatment of women in the Muslim world, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was disinvited from Brandeis Commencement this year.
Brandeis University released this pathetic statement on Tuesday.
Following a discussion today between President Frederick Lawrence and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ms. Hirsi Ali’s name has been withdrawn as an honorary degree recipient at this year’s commencement. She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values. For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.
Commencement is about celebrating and honoring our extraordinary students and their accomplishments, and we are committed to providing an atmosphere that allows our community’s focus to be squarely on our students. In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.