Voices against Bigotry welcomes the news today that a planned Australian speaking tour by anti-Muslim extremist Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been cancelled. Along with other academic, faith and anti-racist groups concerned about rising anti-Muslim sentiment, Voices against Bigotry endorsed a media briefing pack that outlined key issues of concern: her conflation of Muslims with terrorism; her denigration of Muslim women; her advocacy of confronting Muslims about their faith and converting them to Christianity; her denial of Islamophobia; her problematic policy positions on Muslims; and her lack of expertise. Almost 400 Muslim women including prominent activists, writers and academics signed a petition protesting the tour, while others took part in a video that went viral with over 114,000 views in its first nine hours.
The company Hirsi Ali keeps says a lot about her politics. She was an MP for a right-wing Dutch political party before moving to the US to work for neo-conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute. Tony Abbott, Pauline Hanson and the far-right Q Society embrace her. In contast, the respected hate watch group the Southern Poverty Law Center has declared her an anti-Muslim extremist, and Brandeis University, founded by the Jewish community after the Holocaust, rescinded its offer of an honorary degree in social justice because of her Islamophobic comments.
Some will argue the citing of security concerns as one of “a number of reasons” for cancelling the tour is evidence that Hirsi Ali’s free speech is being impeded. But as long as Hirsi Ali uses the sorts of platforms ordinary people can only dream of to spread ideas of division and hatred, we will continue to voice our opposition to them.