Civil Liberties

Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Brandeis University: You've Betrayed Your Founding Principles


Yesterday Nick Gillespie detailed how

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Courtesy of the Daily Beast

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken critic of how women and girls are treated under Islamic law, was offered an honorary degree from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, only to have the offer abruptly withdrawn. This was likely due, in part, to some comments she made to Reason magazine about there being no such thing as "moderate Islam." Gillespie noted that, clearly, Brandeis knew very little about Hirsi Ali's background or her book, Infidel, when it extended the honorary degree offer (or the school's just playing dumb).

Hirsi Ali has responded Brandeis' statement withdrawing its offer, and she is fairly appalled:

What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The "spirit of free expression" referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced. I regret that very much.

Not content with a public disavowal, Brandeis has invited me "to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues." Sadly, in words and deeds, the university has already spoken its piece. I have no wish to "engage" in such one-sided dialogue. I can only wish the Class of 2014 the best of luck—and hope that they will go forth to be better advocates for free expression and free thought than their alma mater. I take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported me and my work on behalf of oppressed woman and girls everywhere.

Read her full statement here. Read her 2007 interview with Reason magazine here.