Harris and Rushdie on Ayaan Hirsi Ali

From this week’s LA Times, a good op-ed piece by Sam Harris and Salman Rushdie, both of whom know something themselves about living with threats from religious fanatics:

Hirsi Ali may be the first refugee from Western Europe since the Holocaust. As such, she is a unique and indispensable witness to both the strength and weakness of the West: to the splendor of open society and to the boundless energy of its antagonists. She knows the challenges we face in our struggle to contain the misogyny and religious fanaticism of the Muslim world, and she lives with the consequences of our failure each day. There is no one in a better position to remind us that tolerance of intolerance is cowardice. (read the rest here)

I was somewhat disappointed in the arguments of The Caged Virgin, which I thought relied too heavily on personal experience and anecdote to draw large conclusions (sometimes, to say “I saw such a thing happen” or “I was a Muslim, so I know” is not enough to go on, however compelling it may be as individual testimony)–this despite, of course, my strong sympathy for and general agreement with those conclusions. I haven’t had a chance to read Infidel yet. But Hirsi Ali’s story is truly both remarkable and horrifying, and everything I’ve seen and read about her, including her interview with my former UBC classmate Irshad Manji in her documentary Faith without Fear, has increased my respect for her dignity, forthrightness and courage.

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