Ayaan Hirsi Ali
"This is cultural suicide"
In the wake of the terrorist murders roiling Europe, the award winning Ayaan Hirsi Ali is implacable. Europe must impose a total moratorium on migration from Muslim countries. The human rights activist tells Die Weltwoche: "It's really a matter of political will." To Islamic agitators the outspoken Somali-born, Dutch American has a simple message: "Don't accept French values or German values? Go home. Go to where you have your way of life that you like and understand."
Islamic terrorism, once again, is sending shock waves across Europe. First, there was the public beheading by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee of a French middle school teacher who dared, in a lesson on free speech, show his class the Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammad. Then followed the decapitation of an elderly French woman and stabbing deaths of two other Catholic worshippers near the Notre Dame church in Nice. The attacker: a 21-year-old Tunisian man who came ashore only four weeks ago in Italy.
And now city centre of Vienna, Austria, was the target of brutal terrorism. Four people have been killed and 22 injured on Monday evening. The country's interior minister and chancellor called the shooting an "Islamist terror attack."
Somali-born, Dutch American Ayaan Hirsi Ali knows Islamist horror well. At the age of five, she was subjected to religiously commanded genital mutilation. When she rebelled against studying the Koran, her teacher broke her skull. Later, having become a high profile opponent to Islamic fundamentalism, Al Qaeda named her on its hit list.
Her dramatic journey from Mogadishu to the halls of the Dutch parliament to the capital of the United States has been told many times and best by Hirsi Ali, herself, in her 2006 autobiography, “Infidel.” The late literary critic and lauded public intellectual Christopher Hitchens called Hirsi Ali, "the most important public intellectual probably ever to come out of Africa."
Weltwoche: France has hardly recovered from a series of murders when Islamic terrorists hit Vienna. What is your first thought on the attacks in Austria?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: It is amazing that European governments are capable of subjecting millions of people to lockdowns but are not able to remove a relatively small number of people out of their countries. The core task of a government is to keep citizens safe from domestic and foreign threats. Now is the time to show that France, Austria, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom are up to the task. If they are not, their legitimacy will rightly be called into question.
Weltwoche: Are you surprised by this new wave of terror in France?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Like everyone, I am shocked. I am appalled. I am disgusted. But anyone who says they're surprised has not been paying attention for any amount of time.
Weltwoche: We see that knives are the weapons of choice. What is the explanation for this?
Hirsi Ali: It is often difficult to find guns or make an improvised explosive device. In mosques, they urge young people to take up "your mother's kitchen knife." That's what they preach. “Take your mother's kitchen knife and go and cause mayhem. Because if you kill the infidel or injure the infidel you can get ‘points’ in the afterlife.” That is what is said in these mosques. In the Islamic, especially Jihadi ideology, there is a symbolic significance connected to a knife or the sword, which is a different kind of knife. You'll see in some of the flags of some Muslim countries there is a sword, like in Saudi Arabia.
Weltwoche: The knives, or sabers, are not only used to stab. We have just witnessed two beheadings in France. What is the meaning of beheading?
Hirsi Ali: It's in the Quran. It is, supposedly, what the Prophet Muhammad did to his enemies. When he went to war and defeated a group of people whom he called “infidels,” he would go on a beheading spree. Today’s beheadings are a re-enactment of that period in Islam when it was the ultimate punishment, the ultimate defeat of the enemy. Beheading sends the message. It's a gruesome way of dying, and that instills fear and terror in the hearts of the infidels. That's how the Quran talks about, how the Hadith talks about it. That’s how they talk about it in some of these mosques. So, this is all common knowledge at this point.
In 2001, people in Europe were surprised because they didn't know very much about Islam. Now, there is nothing left to know. We know it all. The only question, now, is to act so we can check this ideology.
Weltwoche: In a six country study in Europe, Dutch social scientist Ruud Koopmans found that 65% of Muslims said that religious rules were more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live. What does this say about the silent majority of Muslims in Europe in the face of such terrorist crimes?
Hirsi Ali: Sometimes, it's tolerance for the crime. Sometimes, it's acceptance. But very often, it's collaboration. When I talk about collaboration, I mean people who give money to Islamic charities. It's people who know that the crime is going to take place but do nothing to stop it. There is all the encouraging that goes on inside some of these mosques and in some of these other facilities where the Islamists bring people together. They urge them to use violence, intolerance, and intimidation. The Muslim communities and the individuals who do not want to be a part of the violence are silenced in so many different ways.
When Ruud Koopmans did that survey, that was 2008. Now, twelve years later, the problem has only deepened and widened. We need to draw a line and make it crystal clear to the Islamists that they have the choice: “Either you want to live in France or in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and you adopt local norms, or you leave. We'll help you leave.”
Hirsi Ali: You have now fleets of airlines that are grounded because of coronavirus. You would have to fill them with people who don't want to live in France. They don't accept French values or German values? Go home. Go to where you have your way of life that you like and understand. But this has to be implemented. You have to show that you mean it.
Weltwoche: Many of the radicals who are very hard to integrate have been born in Europe. Europe is their birthright. Where do we send them?
Hirsi Ali: We have to tell them: “You have the choice of going to the country of your father and mother or your grandfather.'' When they say, “Oh, I am born in France. But, actually, I hate that, and I'm going to live by the values of Algeria,” I tell them, “Go back to Algeria.”
Weltwoche: I have a teenage daughter. She was out in Bern, Switzerland, this summer, and was sexually harassed by young Muslims migrants. She was very disturbed and asked me, "Why do young Muslim men who seek refuge in Europe engage in sexual harassment?" What would you tell my daughter?
Hirsi Ali: Well, I've written a whole book about this which will be published in February, next year. So, we have to make sure we give her a copy as quickly as possible. The answer, briefly, is: Those young men come from cultures where women are seen as sexual objects. There's no respect for women unless these women abide by the rules of staying at home and covering themselves from head to toe; unless they go outside with permission by a man and with a male guardian and a chaperone. When they see women in Europe who are free, who are jogging, who are going out, who are working, it's a cultural shock for them. In their countries of origin, when they watch Western movies, they are told, “This is what white women do. White women are all whores.” So, they come with a stereotype of the white woman, thinking that's what she wants. When they come to Europe, no one tells them that's not the case. No one tells them what's expected of them.
Weltwoche: Immigration has led to a culture clash in Europe. How have European leaders failed?
Hirsi Ali: They're failing in every possible way. Every time we have discussions about immigration, all of the European leaders do the virtue signaling, and they tell us all sorts of sentimental stories about why more and more people should come in, or when people come in illegally, why we cannot evict them. So, there's a failure in every possible way. The integration and assimilation programs, where they exist, are terrible
Weltwoche: Without exception?
Hirsi Ali: I have seen a few programs in Austria after this great epidemic and sexual harassment of women by immigrant men. Some of these men were actually forced into programs where they would not get any kind of welfare unless they showed up, and it worked. I've seen a program or two in Denmark where it's the same thing, and it seems to work. So, I think it can be done, but there has never been a political will to limit immigration, to promote assimilation, and to evict those people who don't want to be in the country, or who are just there for the welfare.
Weltwoche: The Islamic extremism we are witnessing, how much is a consequence of the 2015 migration into Germany? We had enormous masses arriving and, from Germany, moving across Europe.
Hirsi Ali: I think that's only a part of the equation. At least since 1980, there was Islamic activism all over Europe by large numbers of immigrant Muslims. They established mosques. They established so-called “Muslim Centers” and so-called “Learning Centers.” They were allowed to have their own parallel societies with their own television and publications. They were allowed, without any kind of checks, to indoctrinate young, vulnerable Muslim masses. 2015 only provided them with a larger population to indoctrinate. 2015 also opened the doors for people who are radicalized in their own countries of origin: Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Egypt, you name it, other parts of North Africa. So, 2015 made things worse, but it didn't start in 2015.
Weltwoche: The man who beheaded a woman in a church in Nice is a 21-year-old migrant from Tunisia who entered Europe on a boat via Lampedusa, a few weeks ago. Should there be a clear limit for migration, so we can proceed with the integration of the migrants who are already in Europe?
Hirsi Ali: Absolutely. The number should be zero until this problem is resolved. Once a country feels confident that the assimilation problem is resolved, then it can start talking about immigration. In the United States, there's the green card program where you have an employer finding an employee abroad and, then, taking responsibility for bringing him or her into the country and, then, having to keep that responsibility for anything that the immigrant does wrong. That system was never entertained in Europe. Having larger numbers of men coming from violent wars into a society where they hate women, and they hate the values of Europe — coming unchecked — that is cultural suicide. It's political suicide, and it's going to create a civil war.
Weltwoche: President Macron is now positioning himself as a defender of French values. He's determined to drain the Islamic swamp. What will it take?
Hirsi Ali: Well, a number of things. He can use foreign policy tools to stop the influence coming from Turkey, Qatar, and other Gulf countries. Their influence is ideological, but there's also a lot of money transferred. That money is used to establish Western indoctrination centers where young people are brainwashed to believe and then to eventually act on their beliefs. The second issue is domestic: to be very serious about assimilating Muslim minorities. If they do not want to assimilate, then there should be a program of repatriation — going back to the countries of origin where they can have Sharia law. If, because of the coronavirus, national leaders have the power to shut down whole countries, they might have the power to implement an assimilation program and repatriation program.
Weltwoche: Is it too late?
Hirsi Ali: It's not too late. If you say so, it becomes an excuse to do nothing. To say that we have to live with terrorism, that's unacceptable. It is really a matter of political will. And I think that after these events in the recent days, Macron has the legitimacy to implement some of these policies that were supposedly controversial.
Ten or twenty years ago, we knew about these problems, and we knew them very well. We published about it, demanding what I’ve outlined in this interview. But we were always told, ''No, it's wrong. It's against European values.'' Now, I think all of that is about to stop.
Weltwoche: A last question. How important for world security was the destruction of the Islamic State as a geographic entity?
Hirsi Ali: I think, symbolically, it was very important to destroy the Islamic State. They claimed to be invincible. That idea was crushed. Most important, it was for the people forced to live under its power — the Yazidi women, for example, who were enslaved. Defeating the Islamic State was one of the most important achievements of President Trump.
* Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women's Rights, out In February 2021.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and founder of the AHA Foundation. She served as a member of the Dutch Parliament from 2003-2006.