Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Muslim Heretics-If You Don't Know These Names, You Should

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish and Irshad Manji. Have you ever heard of these women? If not, I hope you will read on because everyone should know who they are. They have certain things in common: They were all born Muslim, yet, they are very vocal critics of Islam as it is being practiced today. Two of them have renounced Islam entirely. All of them live under the threat of death for the things that they say about Islam.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia in 1969. The family had to move several times because her father was a political opponent of the regime. They went to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, then settled in Kenya. Her split with Islam began as a result of her desire to escape a forced marriage to a man she did not know. During a 1992 vist to Europe to visit relatives, she found asylum in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, Ali went through a transformation that turned her against Islam. (She now considers herself an atheist.) She was disillusioned to see how many Muslim communities in the Netherlands were practicing their traditional forms of subjugation of women while Dutch police were afraid to even enter Muslim neighborhoods.

It was her work with Dutch film producer, Theo Van Gogh on a film about the subjugation of women in Islam (Submission) that led to Van Gogh's stabbing death in 2004 by a Muslim on a Dutch street and her own life being put in imminent danger. As a result, Ali was placed under Dutch Government protection. While in the Netherlands, Ali became a politician, but as a result of the circumstances of her initial immigration (she used a false name), Ali was eventually forced out of Dutch politics, and her Dutch citizenship was taken away (2006).

Subsequently, Ali was forced to leave the Netherlands due to her situation. In recent years, she has been living and working in the United States for the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, under protection of security paid for by the Dutch Government. Presently, however, she is in the Netherlands due to the fact that the Dutch have stopped paying for security outside of their own country. This situation is still in the process of being resolved.

Ali is the author of a book entitled: Infidel. She has also been awarded several human rights awards and been named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential people in the World (2005).

Nonie Darwish was born in Cairo and has also lived in Gaza, where she was raised in the 1950s. Her father was killed fighting Israelis, which initially caused her to hate everything about Israel. Back in Egypt, she found that this attitude was actively fostered in that country under Nasser.

Events in recent years, such as 9-11, have caused her to break with Islam. She considers herself a supporter of the US, Israel and the War on Terror. She is also critical of the so-called moderate Muslims, who she accuses of being silent after 9-11. Darwish claims that Muslim mosques in the US are preaching a radical, Wahhabi version of Islam.

Darwish appears as a speaker at various locales, including university campuses in the US. She is the author of a book published in 2006 entitled: Now They Call Me Infidel- Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror. Darwish is currently involved with an organization called Arabs for Israel.

Irshad Manji was born in Uganda in 1968, the daughter of an Indian family. At the age of four, her family was forced to leave that country for Canada when dictator Idi Amin expelled all Indians. As a feminist and lesbian, she still considers herself a Muslim though she is an outspoken critic of Islam and orthodox interpretations of the Koran. A friend of writer Salmon Rushdie, Manji calls for reform within the religion. She is the author of a book entitled: The Trouble With Islam Today- A Muslim's Call for Reform in her Faith.

Manji has made numerous appearances to spread her message of reform. She has been interviewed by Al-Jazeera, CBS, CNN, BBC, Fox and the CBC (Canada), among others. For her work, she has received a number of awards, such as the Oprah Winfrey Chutzpah Award (for courage). Ms. Magazine has described her as "a feminist for the 21st century".

Manji's work has come at a price. She has received numerous death threats for her critical comments about Islam. Her residence is equipped with bullet-proof glass.

Why should we care about these three women? We should care not only because they have placed their lives on the line to speak out, but also because they are living among us (the West), no longer being able to survive in their countries of origin. We should care because there are those who have sworn to kill them for their apostacy/heresy-kill them right here in our own countries where we enjoy freedom of religion, the right to change religion or renounce it entirely. This we can never permit or tolerate. We owe it to these women to protect them and support them- not because they are bashing Islam, but because in our societies, death is never the penalty for going against one's religion.

They are not the only ones, only the most prominent. Indeed, there are many more-some nameless-who have lost faith in a version of Islam that preaches death and hate. Many have made steps to break away, only to be intimidated into silence by threats. Sadly, some of these cases are happening in the West-even in America.

One of the reasons that Ayaan Hirsi Ali had to leave the Netherlands was because many of her neighbors protested her presence, afraid that they might be placed in danger by her being in their neighborhood even with all the security. That's about what I would expect from the Dutch, but shame on us if we let it happen here.

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