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Why Jonathan Trott needs our support

It is not clear after the latest setback in Jonathan Trott’s recovery whether he is suffering from anxiety, burnout or depression. What is clear is that (despite some contestations to the contrary in his recent interview with Sky Sports) Trott is not in a good place mentally now.

Surprisingly though, people’s responses to Trott’s travails (led by people who really should know better including Michael Vaughan) have been less than sympathetic to say the least, in fact quite the opposite. Vaughan said he felt conned, and  some have complained that he is letting the side down. Even if, as he said in the interview, he was suffering from burnout this is still a form of mental illness and so shouldn’t be treated as something trivial. That it elicited such responses on twitter and elsewhere shows that, for some, mental illness is a form of weakness and amounts to letting people down. It’s no wonder, with this response being prevalent today, that people who suffer from any form of mental illness find it hard to be honest about it.

Why then am I giving my opinion on this and adding my voice to the number of commentators sticking their oar in on what is currently happening to the Trott? The simple truth is that I unfortunately have experience of a form of mental illness in depression and whilst I don’t know precisely Trott’s situation, what I do know is that we need to be supporting him in his travails, not kicking the boot in. One of the hardest things about having a mental illness is being completely open about it and telling friends and family. This is because you feel like a failure and that if you say anything you will be seen as weak and pathetic. Thankfully when I told friends and family I was given the support I need.  It will never go away fully though and learning to cope with it is something I still need to get better at.

For me watching Jonathan Trott’s documentary was harrowing. Whilst I claim to be no expert on mental illnesses, having suffered from it I can tell recognize the signs. Despite his claims to his contrary, by his mannerisms I could tell that he was not fully over the illness. Unfortunately events this week have proven me right. What needs to be remembered though, is this is not Trott’s fault. Talking at all about suffering from a mental health illness is hard enough, being totally honest about it is an even bigger step.  That some people’s first reaction was to have a go at him, means the fight against discrimination towards those suffering from mental health issues goes on.

To conclude: mental health illnesses don’t respect race, religion, creed, wealth or your job. The idea expressed by a minority that because he’s playing the sport he loves he shouldn’t have such problems is far from the mark. In time I hope to see people treating mental health issues as seriously as any other illness and injury.  Perhaps when that happens people in my situation won’t find it so hard to open up about it and will get the help they need earlier. Right now though some people need to change their attitudes and support Trott in his fight to get better. As someone who knows about the black hole of mental illness I certainly wish him all the best.

The author would like to remain anonymous.

Prepare for Integrism! Radical Jew Hatred & the Decolonial Shakedown

This is a cross-post from Jacobinism

Western critics of regressive values within minority communities tend to elicit one of two accusations.

The first is one of misrepresentation. That is to say, the critic in question has – either through ignorance or malice – traduced benign cultures as backward and barbaric. Hostility to views perceived to be, say, homophobic, misogynistic or anti-Semitic, result either from misunderstandings or, more likely, from irrational – and probably racist – scaremongering; an attempt to stigmatise the ‘other’.

This argument was, for a while, most effectively advanced by the Swiss Ikhwanist Tariq Ramadan, and it finds an intuitively sympathetic audience on the Western secular Left. Not only is its intended effect ameliorative, but it also addresses a particular anxiety – that multiculturalism is incubating illiberal practices and ideas within free societies while they sleep.

The second accusation is one of intolerance. This represents a more radical view that, while values and practices with respect to women and gays may indeed be antithetical to those of the West, they are culturally authentic and therefore to be respected. Attempts by the West to universalise human rights and protections are in fact manifestations of an arrogant and moralising cultural colonialism.

This sort of nationalist rhetoric finds a (smaller) audience among the West’s soi dissant radical Left, who are drawn to its uncompromising political zeal, its hostility to capitalism, and its anti-Imperialist sloganeering, all of which inform a pleasingly trenchant anti-Zionism.

A rather marvellous example of this marriage between radical Left and reactionary Right can be found cross-posted by Guardian and New Statesman contributor Richard Seymour at his Leninology blog. It’s the transcript of a talk given in February of this year by Houria Bouteldja, an activist of Algerian heritage and a spokesperson for France’s first “decolonial” political party, the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic [PIR].

Established in 2010, the PIR grew out of a five year-old grassroots movement of the same name, which was founded in the name of the ‘indigènes’ of France to campaign against “Eurocentrism, Islamophobia, anti-black racism, and…” (naturally) “…Zionism”. 1 The group’s 2005 foundational manifesto describes the indigènes in its opening paragraph as follows:

Discriminated in hiring, housing and health, at school and even at leisure, people from the colonies, former and current, and of postcolonial immigration are the first victims of social exclusion and precariousness. Independent of their actual origins, the inhabitants of the “quartiers”/popular neighborhoods are “indigenized”, relegated to the margins of society.

Broadly speaking, the party’s ideology is a politics of religious and ethnic pride, in which class warfare is replaced by its identitarian equivalent, the privilege of wealth is subordinated to the privilege of ’structural’ racial power, and in which the prefix ‘white’ has replaced ‘bourgeois’ as the preferred term of abuse. Assimilation and compromise are signs of weakness to be avoided. Integration has failed; prepare for integrism.

Bouteldja’s talk, ponderously entitled “Dieudonné Through the Prism of the White Left, or Conceptualizing a Domestic Internationalism”, is basically a disquisition on why the PIR refused to take a position on the controversy surrounding the ‘Quenelle’ – an anti-Semitic salute pioneered by a fascist French comedian named Dieudonné M’bala M’bala.

Bouteldja introduces her address with a four point preamble, the first three of which can be summarised like this:

  • My decolonial discourse transcends crude Western notions of Right and Left.
  • My words are “rooted in the social and historical experience of a colonial subject” (ie: oppression).
  • I think “in terms of political stakes, power relations, and strategy . . . not abstract morality and principle.”

We’re not told why, for instance, it might be a good idea to discard morality and principle, but it’s a forewarning: If what I say shocks you, it is because you are not ready to understand the experiences of people who look like me and think like me; a people created by your own criminal history.

Bouteldja then turns in her final point to the object of her scorn, citing the following words from the Tunisian activist, Sadri Khiari:

“Because it is the indigènes’ indispensable partner, the Left is their primary adversary.”

Houria Bouteldja, we discover, has tired of the Western Left. In the 30 years since the March for Equality and Against Racism, nothing has changed. Watching a documentary to mark the protest’s anniversary, she is horrified to hear an activist claim that the marchers would have eaten ham had it been demanded of them. Bouteldja recoils from such self-abasement, but France’s failure to respond to even such total servility was the second, and greater, humiliation.

Bouteldja’s charge is that the indigènes of France have been failed by the principles of the French Republic and by their erstwhile allies on the Left. The institutional Left has lost touch with ideology, she claims. On the one hand it thrashes about in “abstract humanism” and “moralistic anti-racism”, and on the other it fails to address police brutality and the “plagues of drugs and AIDS”, it moves against Islamic dress codes, and it pursues neoliberalism at home and neoconservatism abroad.

Meanwhile, what she calls the ‘radical Left’ has ceased to think strategically, and instead succumbed to Islamophobia, paternalism, and chauvinistic Eurocentrism. “The worn-out moral anti-racism, in the style of [French NGO] SOS-Racism,” she announces, “is at death’s door.”

It is this disaffection, she claims, which explains the indigènesre-emergence on the political stage in the person of Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, and in the company of far-right figures like Alain Soral and Marine Le Pen. Read more »

Putin: I lied, but now I’m telling the truth. Honest!

The Washington Post reports:

President Vladimir Putin, who repeatedly denied Russian troops had entered Crimea before the March referendum there, changed his version of those events Thursday, telling the nation that they had indeed been there all along.

But the green-uniformed men observed in eastern Ukraine right now, storming buildings and raising the Russian flag, are not Russian, he said. “Those are local residents,” he said.

Appearing on a televised call-in program, Putin even took a video question from Edward Snowden, the American former intelligence contractor who revealed large-scale U.S. surveillance programs and has taken refuge in Russia. Putin greeted him as a fellow spy, saying, “We can talk one professional language.”

Snowden asked if Russia spied on its citizens the way he said the United States did. Putin denied it, saying that Russian eavesdropping is strictly controlled by the law.


The United States and Europe in recent days have accused Putin and other Russian officials of lying when they say Moscow has no hand in the disorder playing out in eastern Ukraine, close to Russia’s border.

“Of course we had our servicemen behind the self-defense units of Crimea,” Putin said in his televised meeting with the nation. “We had to make sure what is happening now in eastern Ukraine didn’t happen there.”

Putin was asked in regard to Crimea: “Who were those men in green uniforms?” They were Russian troops, he answered, deployed to make sure residents of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula were safe from assault by the government in Kiev. They also needed the proper conditions, he said, so they could safely vote in a referendum on secession. Russia annexed Crimea after a March 16 referendum, in which voters approved leaving Ukraine.

In early March, reporters asked Putin about the appearance in Crimea of mysterious armed men in green uniforms, which had no insignia but resembled Russian gear.

“There are many uniforms there that are similar. You can go to a store and buy any kind of uniform,” he said then. “Those were local self-defense units.”

Perhaps he had his fingers crossed.

The power of one

Last Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons” took a look into the future, where Nelson’s mom is still working as an exotic dancer and Ted Cruz is apparently the lone Republican member of the US Senate.

Redrawing the map

Guest post by DaveM

Anybody who’s spent any time on the Arab world can attest that, at least in public, introspection is very hard to come by. There’s still a dominant and powerful Pan-Arab position which holds that pretty much everything wrong in the region can be attributed to one of two factors – Jewish self-determination and the Sykes – Picot Agreement.

As I’ve discussed before, Arab Nationalists claim there is a single Arab Nation which has been divided into artificial states by the Imperial powers of England and France.

Rather than being recognised for what it is, an ideology just like the others– e.g. Communism, Fascism or Anarchism– for a long time a lot of people in the Arab world saw it as a reflection of the truth.

In 2008 Al Jazeera English carried out a small vox pop on this issue; but it does reflect the views I experienced when I was in Syria the previous year, such as this one:

“One could say that the Arab nations of the Middle East were created by the agreement. The Sykes-Picot agreement was a secret understanding between Britain and France dividing up remnants of the Ottoman Empire into areas that would be administered by these two superpowers.

From an Arab perspective, the divisions created were entirely artificial.

Nevertheless, these divisions led to the national boundaries that followed”.

This year the Guardian published an opinion piece from Hassan Bin Talal which said much the same thing.

[O]ur British and French “allies” doomed us to decades of divisive sectarianism and destructive rivalry, confined by borders that failed to match the economic, ethnic and environmental realities on the ground. The infamous Sykes-Picot agreement that partitioned west Asia into British- and French-mandated territories quashed the nascent Arab renaissance movement, forcing its sentiments to simmer under the surface of the Arab psyche and boil over only intermittently for the next century.

And of course it wasn’t just Arab voices promoting this ideology.

One of the main grievances held by its adhererents is that the borders in the Middle East do not reflect any ethnic realities on the ground. However after the uprisings and turmoil which have engulfed the region for the last three years, this looks like it’s about to change, yet not in a way which Arab nationalists would like.

Masoud Barzani: “I’m certain that the independent Kurdish state is coming. I have no doubt.”

Sky News Arabia: “Barzani is bringing the destiny of Kurdistan Iraq back into the forefront. While this isn’t the first time in which he’s talked about the Kurdish state it is one of those rare times in which he’s been frank in regards to the inevitability of establishing the entity.

“Barzani’s old-renewed position is now becoming more crystallized and he considers that the unity of Iraq has become something hypothetical.”

Masoud Barzani:“The central authority doesn’t have any authority over must of Iraq and especially the region of Kurdistan. And the central authority doesn’t have any authority in lot of the other regions. There doesn’t exist a government which controls the situation in Iraq. It’s a government of agreement but in truth it’s no longer that”.

Sky News Arabia: “Barzani thinks that the issue goes beyond the Iraqi border. In his view the developments which are being witnessed by the region have come in order to rectify the international and regional agreements and to leave behind the huge errors (which were made) in the drawing of the countries and regions borders since Sykes-Picot.

“He says that the path is beginning with confederation in Iraq but that it’s aspiring to more than that both inside and outside the Land of the Two Rivers (Iraq).”

Across the border in Syria the situation is not a lot different, though its Kurdish enclave is is run by political rivals to the Kurdistan Iraq government.

The Middle East order, established after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, has been rocked to its foundations in recent years. One of the results of this is that nations and groups which lost out in the period of ferment that followed the Ottoman collapse now have the distinct sense that history may be about to afford them a second chance.

Most prominent among such peoples are the Kurds. This ancient, non-Semitic Middle Eastern nation of around 40 million people is spread between four Middle Eastern states – Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

[Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Zubeyir] Aydar is soft-spoken and precise – a lawyer, not a military man. Born in the town of Siirt, in the Kurdish heartland in southeast Turkey, he fled the country in 1994, and has made his base in Brussels ever since. Our conversation was the first this senior PKK official had conducted with an Israeli publication.

It took place in the [Kurdistan National Congress] offices in the Belgian capital, which are located behind discreet wooden doors in an elegant if slightly shopworn old Brussels house. The Kurdish official’s messages were clear and unambiguous.

First and foremost, he noted the reality of emergent Kurdish self-government: “In the Middle East, a Kurdistan is rising,” Aydar said. “It doesn’t yet have official borders. But it is there, a reality. There is Kurdish authority running all the way from the Iranian border to close to the Mediterranean.”
“It’s possible Syria may collapse,” he continued.

“If it does, the Kurds won’t put it back together. They will rule their own areas. The map of the Middle East may change. Its not written by God; no one asked us when they drew the map. In any case, the Kurds must be ready for all possible developments.”

This is something which could have wide ranging consequences for Israel.

Aydar also made some fascinating and far-reaching comments about Israel and its place in the region. His tone was one common among Kurds, yet probably without parallel elsewhere in the region.

“There is an Islamic approach toward Israel in the Middle East,” he said. “Before that, there was a leftist point of view. But both of these were based on Arab nationalism. This view was saying that Israel has no place in the Middle East, and Jews have no rights in the Middle East.

“The other nations in the Middle East – Arabs, Turks, Iranians, Kurds – have to accept the existence of Israel in the Mideast. They have to recognize that these people are from the region, and are indigenous people of the region. And whatever rights Arabs have, Israel also has. This nation has the right to live on its own soil.”

Aydar went on to call for “breaking the walls between Kurds and Israelis, and getting to know each other. If we can continue our friendship, both sides will benefit from it. The region needs the Israeli experience.

So it’s important that we develop and further relations – not just as two peoples, but also at the highest levels.’

Of course an affinity between Kurds and Israelis shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody; after all both sides have paid a heavy price to achieve self-determination.

Now more than at any time in the past there could be more nation states in the Middle East which finally reflect the ethnic makeup of their populations, giving them rights they never had prior to independence.

“The reality of Kurdistan is emerging in the Middle East – Kurdish sovereignty is on its way,” Aydar reiterated… That this statement sounds more realistic today than at any time in recent memory is a testament to the deep and historic changes underway in the region.

Britain’s sharia councils and secular alternatives

This is a cross-post from Left Foot Forward by Lejla Kuric

The secular legal system can uphold the rights of minority women forced to conform to patriarchal religious laws, writes Lejla Kuric

In a secular legal system, the right to hold religious beliefs is absolute. However, the right to manifest those religious beliefs is limited by the need to respect the autonomy and rights of others.

A religious or theocratic legal system, on the other hand, does not recognise such limitations – its notion of justice rests instead on the supremacy of its own revealed truths and the whims of the – invariably male – clerical authorities who interpret them.

The Islamic Sharia Council based in Leyton, East London, is the largest Sharia body in the UK. Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad is a board member and its representative.

Amongst other things, he has stated that “a man should not be questioned why he has hit his wife, because this is something between them”.

He has argued that there is a “proper” way of performing female genital mutilation, stating: “it is consensus of all scholars that female circumcision is sunnah [proper]“.

He endorses child marriage and has said that in Islam there is no minimum age for marriage. Rather, the marriage of children should be at their parents’ discretion (although he qualified this by advising “the earlier, the better, especially for girls. But you have to be careful of the legal, yaani [you know], issues”.

He has also recommended that children be married off during their GCSE’s (aged 15-16).

This is a man who presides over family cases.

It is little surprise, then, that women face unfair treatment before Sharia Councils. Last year this was highlighted by a BBC Panorama investigation entitled ‘The Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils’.

Most of the cases over which Sharia Councils preside are marital disputes and divorce requests, 9 out of 10 of which are brought by women.

It is important to ask: If Sharia Councils discriminate against women, why, then, do women seek their services?

The answer is that many Muslim women do not have a choice. Only 1 in 10 of the UK’s mosques are registered to conduct civil ceremonies under the 1949 Marriage Act. It is believed that a high percentage of Muslim marriages, if not the majority, are therefore not registered under the Marriage Act.

This can have grave consequences for Muslim women if their marriage breaks down. Under British law, unregistered wives are merely co-habitants, and therefore, they are entitled to limited property rights. The only possible route for them to seek some sort of justice is by turning to Sharia Councils.

But even if the marriage has been legally registered and a civil divorce is obtained, it is impossible for women to move on without also obtaining a religious divorce. Frequently, in the eyes of their families, their communities, and the laws in their countries of origin, they remain married unless they have been granted a religious divorce.

So Sharia Councils have become an unavoidable path for Muslim women in instances where their husband refuses to grant them an Islamic divorce.

This situation, in which a woman is kept in a religious marriage against her wishes, is known as ‘Marital Captivity’. This problem is not unique to Muslims; Jewish, Catholic and Hindu women often find themselves caught in a similar bind.

As a result, women are trapped in a state of limbo, forced to endure unhappy or abusive marriages indefinitely at the whim of religious authority. They are unable to rebuild their lives, to remarry or even to start a new relationship. If they do, they are likely to be ostracised by their families and shunned by their communities.

In addition, women from South Asian and Middle-Eastern backgrounds face the prospect of so-called ‘honour’ violence, and Muslim women can be arrested and prosecuted for adultery if they hold dual citizenship and visit their country of origin.

Needless to say, women in this situation are vulnerable to extortion and exploitation by their husbands.

It has been argued – by imams and multiculturalists, alike – that Sharia Councils can help to release Muslim women from marital captivity, by offering them a religiously sanctioned path out of an unhappy marriage.

This argument simply does not accord with reality. As Sheikh Abu Sayeed has stated:

“We don’t break the marriage. As long as marriage is sacred, our job is to reconcile the marriage”.

In other words, Sharia Councils have an agenda — to frustrate divorce proceedings and, wherever possible, to pressure women into reconciliation in order to “save” the marriage.

Petitioners, usually women, have little choice but to enter into this rigged process under the guidance of mediators who are not neutral.

Muslim men have exploited this bias in order to negotiate favourable financial and custody settlements, by ignoring the due process required by British law. And Muslim women have little choice but to accept unfair settlements simply to obtain a religious certificate formalising their divorce.

The One Law for All campaign is calling for an end to Sharia Councils and all religious tribunals in the UK, arguing that they work against equality and human rights.

The campaign is right to point out discriminatory nature of religious tribunals, however, even if all religious tribunals were abolished tomorrow, the problem would remain unsolved because the reason women turn to these tribunals in the first place would remain unaddressed.

Muslim women would be forced to turn instead to individual imams to rule on matters of marriage and divorce. It is highly unlikely that the treatment they would receive under such an arrangement would be any more egalitarian than that provided by Sharia Councils.

So what is solution to Marital Captivity?

Firstly, many of the problems and abuses Muslim women face in Britain could easily be avoided if all Muslim marriages were registered in the first place and thus recognised under British law. A much more rigorous approach to marriage registration is therefore urgently needed.

According to Section 75 of the Marriage Act, it is illegal to perform unregistered ceremonies. In theory, imams who do so could — and should — face up to 5 years imprisonment. But this is a crime to which the State turns a blind eye.

If all Muslim marriages were legally registered then Section 10A of the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002 could be extended to cover Islamic Marriages. This provision is used to help Jewish wives facing similar problems when seeking religious divorce.

Secondly, Britain should follow the Dutch example and provide women with a secular alternative to end Marital Captivity through the civil courts.

Femmes for Freedom are a Dutch women’s rights organisation. Last year they successfully lobbied the Dutch government to expand the definition of forced marriage to include Marital Captivity. Femmes for Freedom argued that if forcing a woman into marriage is wrong, it follows that forcing her to stay in the marriage against her will is also wrong. Marital Captivity is now acknowledged as a wrongful act under Dutch Law. This means that women can now press charges against a husband who prolongs Marital Captivity.

In 2010, Femmes for Freedom’s founder, Dutch-Pakistani activist Shireen Musa, became the first Muslim woman to obtain a religious divorce through a Dutch court. Following successful completion of her civil divorce, Musa’s husband refused to grant a religious divorce.

After years of Marital Captivity, she finally turned to the Dutch civil courts, which ruled that her predicament constituted a ‘tort’ – that is, an unlawful act incurring injury. Consequently, the judge imposed financial penalties on her husband for every day he refused to provide Musa with a religious divorce. He did so immediately.

Femmes for Freedom are excellent example of how feminist activism can make a real difference and how the secular legal system can be used to uphold the rights of minority women forced to conform to fiercely patriarchal religious laws.

In conclusion — we do have ways of tackling Marital Captivity and other issues affecting minority women. However, the biggest obstacle we face in pursuing these solutions is a pervasive political climate of cultural relativism.

Adapted from talk given at International Women’s Day Conference 2014, event by Central London Humanists, Conway Hall Ethical Society and the National Secular Society

Rashida Manjoo on the UK’s sexist culture

UN rapporteur Rashida Manjoo framed her comments about the UK’s supposedly sexist culture in a bizarre way.  It’s true that some elements of the media do over-sexualise girls. The Daily Mail website is one offender.  It also seems entirely appropriate to flag Yarl’s Wood as a cause for concern.  But her conclusion seems both unearned and counterproductive:

She added: “Have I seen this level of sexist culture in other countries? It hasn’t been so in-your-face in other countries.

“I haven’t seen that so pervasively in other countries. I’m sure it exists but it wasn’t so much and so pervasive. I’m not sure what gives rise to a more visible presence of sexist portrayals of women and girls in this country in particular.

The part-time professor in public law at the University of Cape Town raised fears that sexual bullying and harassment in schools was “routine”.

I am sure there is some harassment in schools, but girls consistently outperform boys in their GCSEs – by contrast with the many countries around the world where girls are much less likely than boys to complete their education.  And it seems odd that an academic from South Africa should see sexual violence as a particularly British problem.

According to one recent survey the UK was the 18th best place to be a woman, and Manjoo’s report, her observations about the areas for improvement, would have been more credible if she hadn’t magnified the country’s failings in such a perverse way.  She has apparently visited India – which is one of the very worst countries to be a woman – and Jordan, where a woman’s testimony was recently deemed invalid because she wasn’t veiled.

Although girls and women are sometimes commodified, boys and men are not free from similar pressures.  And although an overly sexualized culture may be suboptimal, there are far worse problems associated with repressing and controlling girls’ sexuality.

London launch of Kevin Higgins’s poetry collection

Kevin Higgins, whose poems have been featured at Harry’s Place, will be in London Sunday April 20 for the launch of his latest collection, The Ghost in the Lobby.

The book can be purchased here.

Britain’s first satirical pro-Iranian politics show

Can anyone shed light on this bizarre (and painful) TV show:

‘In a broadcasting world exclusive, comedy duo Luke Mason and Lembit Öpik have teamed up to reveal Britain’s first satirical pro-Iranian politics show’

Go to 7:20 for their “analysis” of Western views on Iran.

Gene adds: Lembit Opik is not at all funny, but he’s something of a clown. He was previously associated with Press TV.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and critiquing Islam

This is a cross-post by John Sargeant from homo economicus

Brandeis University offered an honorary doctorate to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, then withdrew it after protest because on further scrutiny “We cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” Absolute shambles whatever your view of Ayaan. The giving then not giving undermines the notion of being “a world-class research institution with the intimacy and personal attention of a small liberal arts college” if they could not work this out for themselves.

Dialogue between ex Muslims and Muslims is important. In a pluralistic society that values religious freedom it is possible to exist and interact with each other. The death threats that Ayaan Hirsi Ali experiences are unacceptable. Bomb threats were made against her, not Hitchens, Dawkins or Harris, when I attended a conference they were all speaking at. As volunteers we were asked if we should cancel, I said no. If Ayaan Hirsi Ali was prepared to speak then we should be prepared to listen.

Which is difficult to hear if you think she demands military action against 1.5 billion Muslims to crush them. A variant of this is doing the rounds on the Internet, taken from an interview in 2007. The person that interviewed Ayaan agreed with Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta’s view:

It takes a very uncharitable interpretation of Hirsi Ali’s words to think her goal of “defeating Islam” means we should commit violence against peaceful law-abiding Muslims or descends into hate speech. Her goal is full-scale reform of Islam, not genocide against all Muslims.

You can read the rest of John’s post here