Thursday, 24 May 2007

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on freedom of speech and liberalism

There's an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali at Reset, an Italian online journal that I've just discovered courtesy of signandsight, in which she defends Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan's right to freedom of speech, while disagreeing strongly with his ideas. Asked why it is mainly right-wing voices that speak up for her in Europe, and whether she would describe her struggle as left-wing, Hirsi Ali responds:

When fathers remove girls from schools, when they force them into marriage, when genital mutilation is taking place and when the Socialist or the Social-democratic party says “this is their culture, this is multiculturalism, let us protect it and rule like this”, then I think they are not being left-wing. If left-wing were about individual rights as in classical 19th-century liberalism, I would define myself as leftwing.

Reset also includes a helpful account of the recent spat between Timothy Garton Ash, Ian Buruma and Pascal Bruckner, sparked off by Ayaan Hirsi Ali's recent book. It's a fairly evenhanded summary, though using the term 'Enlightenment fundamentalists' in the title without scare quotes is a bit of a warning as to the author's likely sympathies.

No comments: