The Dutch Culture War
I don't know if you guys have heard of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but she is the one who wrote the movie submission- a controversial movie about women's treatment in Islamic society- that caused the murder of its director Theo Van Gogh on the hands of a fanatic moroccan Immigrant, who decided to also declare a Jihad against the Netherlands, the US and Europe while was at it. Hirsi Ali has been under constant protection since the murder that ignited a culture war in a country famous for its tolerance of other cultures. This "The Nation" article details each side of the issue, especially the people who support her and the people who oppose her ( you will be surprised on both accounts) , while i am showing the article snippets that i found to be, well, interesting! In the United States, where few people have had the chance to read or see her critiques of Islam, the 35-year-old Hirsi Ali has been almost exclusively portrayed as a champion of free speech and women's rights. In the Netherlands, however, she remains the subject of intense controversy. Well before van Gogh's murder, she had become a major hate figure among Dutch Muslims, who accuse her of stirring up Islamophobia on behalf of a cabal of right-wing politicians and columnists. Since the murder, a surprising number of native-born Dutch intellectuals have come around to the Muslim point of view. In a series of "Letters to Hirsi Ali" published this spring in the newspaper De Volkskrant, several well-known, mostly male writers charged her with poisoning the political atmosphere with her strident attacks on Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. They argued that by pandering to Dutch prejudices and putting Muslims on the defensive, she contributes to the very Islamic radicalization she claims to want to stop. In a book rushed into print in February, the popular historian Geert Mak went so far as to compare Submission to Joseph Goebbels's infamous Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew. He warned that the Netherlands could be on the road to civil war. "When the time comes for us to tell our grandchildren, how will we tell the story of the last months of 2004?" Mak asked breathlessly. "The tone, the new tone that suddenly had taken hold? Where did it all begin?" [...] Moors and others don't dispute the existence of the social problems Hirsi Ali identifies. Many Dutch Muslim women do live in segregated "parallel cities" where Islamic social codes are enforced. Muslims make up only 5.5 percent of the Dutch population, but they account for more than half the women in battered women's shelters and more than half of those seeking abortions. Muslim girls have far higher suicide rates than non-Muslim girls. Some Muslim girls, mostly African, are genitally mutilated. But in putting all the blame on Islam, they say, Hirsi Ali ignores the influence of patriarchal custom as well as the work of a generation of Muslim feminists. They point to thinkers like Fatima Mernissi and Amina Wadud, who have shown that Islam's sacred texts can be interpreted in a more female-friendly way. And they say Hirsi Ali avoids mention of the role the West has played and continues to play in assisting the rise of the Islamist movements. "The rightist forces and the radical Islamists feed on each other, and she contributes to that," Moors said. [...] Although the press has focused on the threats against critics of Islam like Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders, Aouragh says that there have been many more attacks on Dutch Muslims than on non-Muslims. She suspects that what the Dutch really fear is not Islamic fundamentalism but the prospect of having to deal with a new generation of highly educated young Muslims who demand a fair hearing for their values. "We are telling them, 'We have rights, too. You have to change your idea about freedom or face the consequences.'" Hmm.... Go read it all!