Open criticism of Islam is bound to follow a person into every facet of their life. Take a look, for example, at Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a human rights advocate, author, and former Dutch parliamentarian who grew up in Somalia as a Muslimah. Ali is now an outspoken critic of Islam, and aside from the usual flurry of death threats received by counterjihad activists, she has also drawn the ire of the so-called “moderate” Muslim community. Earlier this year, Brandeis University withdrew an honorary degree they were going to give her after hordes of Muslims complained.
Yale University, one of the most respected educational institutions in the world, invited Ali to speak on Islam and her experiences with it. Ali is a noted academic and has written extensively on the subject. However, her views on the religion prompted Muslim Students Association member Abrar Omeish to speak out against the scheduled event. Omeish described Ali as “a speaker who is very well known for her hateful comments towards marginalized groups, especially the Muslim community.” Ali hasn’t attacked “marginalized groups” without warrant; the only group she is known for blasting are Muslims. “It is making many Muslims on campus feel unwelcome and uncomfortable[.]” Uhh, how do you think Islam makes gay students on campus feel? Most gay people know what sharia would make of us, and that’s not the kind of “swinging” we’re into.
Omeish continued, “We would like to point out though that her main source of fame – or, rather, infamy – has been her inflammatory comments about Islam and its followers. Not only are these comments hateful, but they are also very hurtful to the Muslim community, particularly to Muslim students at Yale[.]” Ali’s comments come from decades of personal hardship at the hands of Islam. Perhaps Omeish’s perspective on Islam would be different had she lived through some of the Islamic horrors Ali did.
Numerous student groups have signed onto a petition started by the Muslim Students Association to condemn the Ali speech. Here’s the thing: it’s a university, where ideas are meant to be freely exchanged. If some ideas – based on an academic’s personal experience, no less – are completely stifled due to political correctness or incessant Islamic whining, then the university is failing as an institution for discourse. I challenge Omeish and other Muslim Students Association members to go to Ali’s speech to engage in constructive dialogue. No protesting, no thinly-veiled threats a la Jumanah Imad Musa Ahmed al-Bahri, no screaming and acting otherwise uncivilized, just listening and responding. That is the only way for dialogue about one of the world’s most contentious religions to advance.