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Ayaan Hirsi Ali er intervuet av reason.com, og kommer med noen sterke uttalelser om at islam må «nedkjempes». Noen oppfatter dette som ytterliggående, «fundamentalistisk», som bekrefter hva forståsegpåere som Ian Buruma har sagt. Hva er det egentlig hun mener?

For første gang på lang tid kan vi idag si at det på politikkens område er en avantgarde – vi er vant til at det bare er noe som tilhører kunsten – som forstår noe de som kontrollerer det offentlige rom ikke forstår: Kjernen er forholdet mellom islam og det frie samfunn.

Situasjonen er spesiell: de som tradisjonelt skulle formidlet hva avantgarden står for – journalistene og kulturarbeidere – har selv investert mye i et syn som idag utgjør baktroppen. Der har vi forklaringen på at Ayaan Hirsi Ali fremstilles som «fundamentalist».

Den samme mekanismen rammet Hege Storhaug med full styrke da hun presenterte sin nye bok om hijab på norsk: hun ble slaktet i Dagbladet og ellers møtt med taushet. Storhaug satte fingeren på gruppene som hindrer at noe skjer: så lenge forskere og akademikere ikke vil engasjere seg, vil mediene og politikere fortsette i det samme spor. De utgjør en stilltiende allianse som fortsetter den samme politikken, som utad er preget av gode forsetter, men i realiteten er laissez-faire.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali sier vi lever på lånt tid. Forholdet mellom dagens islam og liberale samfunn er til gunst for den ene part: det finnes i realiteten ikke noe skille mellom moderate muslimer og ekstreme. Også de tradisjonelle er med å undergrave det sekulære samfunn. Det må skje en revolusjon innen islam. Den må Vesten bidra til ved å sette foten ned. Men Vesten synes paralysert og tør ikke en gang tenke gjennom problemstillinger som ligger åpent idag.

Ingenting er bedre egnet til å illustrere hennes poeng enn jihadistenes utnyttelse av nettet: NATO-soldater mister livet i Afghanistan og Irak, og drapene spres via nettsteder i Europa og USA. Her får bloggere lov å spre sitt hatbudskap i ytringsfrihetens navn.

Hvis dere tillater at denne utviklingen fortsetter vil prisen for å snu den en dag bli høy, sier Hirsi Ali. Hun tror også at det en dag kommer en reaksjon. Hun mener Vesten må innse at det liberale samfunn ikke er konstruert for å takle islam: islam-skoler er noe helt annet enn andre religiøse skoler. Det vrimler av koran-skoler i Europa. En del av elevene vil bli radikalisert. De fleste vil få en innstilling som gjør det vanskelig å akseptere moderne verdier. Hirsi Ali mener at skolene bør forbys. Det er ingen annen løsning. Det samme gjeder hate-speech, enten det er på nett eller papir.

Muslimer og islamister tar mangel på sanksjoner som tegn på at de vinner: de vil fortsette å presse på, for moskeer, koranskoler, segregert gymnastikk, rett til hijab, fritak under ramadan osv. Gradvis vil friheten bli undergravet. Det er denne utviklingen Hirsi Ali sier må stanses nå, og det må skje kontant, ikke stykkevis og delt. Da vil det bli utvannet og fliset opp, slik Blairs forslag i Storbritannia ble moset.

Det sies nå at klimakrisen er å ligne med kampen under annen verdenskrig. Hirsi Ali ville sagt at kampen mot dagens islam er en enda klarere parallell. Men hun har ikke noe imot den enkelte musliim, tvertimot. De kan ikke noe for at de er født inn i religionen.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali bryter med noen fundamentale forestillinger: om at alt skal bli bedre, at utviklingen aldri kan reverseres, og historiens progresjon. Men det hun sier er at historien allerede er på vei inn i et nytt spor, som ikke er preget av humanisme og godhet. At oppvåkningen kommer til å bli brutalere jo lenger vi venter.

Hver gang noen foreslår revisjon av Den europeiske menneskerettskonvensjon, EMK, eller lignende, stiger et ramaskrik fra alle Bondeviker. Men tenk etter, sier Hirsi Ali. Disse konvensjonene oppsto i en bestemt sammenheng. De må også kunne endres når omstendighetene forandrer seg.

Det rasjonelle samfunn forutsetter rasjonelle aktører. Men islam av idag er ikke rasjonell. Kristendommen er temmet. Den aksepterte nederlaget. Det gjør ikke islam. Den blåser seg tvertimot opp.

Reason: Should we acknowledge that organized religion has sometimes sparked precisely the kinds of emancipation movements that could lift Islam into modern times? Slavery in the United States ended in part because of opposition by prominent church members and the communities they galvanized. The Polish Catholic Church helped defeat the Jaruzelski puppet regime. Do you think Islam could bring about similar social and political changes?

Hirsi Ali: Only if Islam is defeated. Because right now, the political side of Islam, the power-hungry expansionist side of Islam, has become superior to the Sufis and the Ismailis and the peace-seeking Muslims.

Reason: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?

Hirsi Ali: No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace.

Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, «defeat Islam»?

Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, «This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.» There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.

Reason: Militarily?

Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.

Reason: Are we really heading toward anything so ominous?

Hirsi Ali: I think that’s where we’re heading. We’re heading there because the West has been in denial for a long time. It did not respond to the signals that were smaller and easier to take care of. Now we have some choices to make. This is a dilemma: Western civilization is a celebration of life—everybody’s life, even your enemy’s life. So how can you be true to that morality and at the same time defend yourself against a very powerful enemy that seeks to destroy you?

Reason: George Bush, not the most conciliatory person in the world, has said on plenty of occasions that we are not at war with Islam.

Hirsi Ali: If the most powerful man in the West talks like that, then, without intending to, he’s making radical Muslims think they’ve already won. There is no moderate Islam. There are Muslims who are passive, who don’t all follow the rules of Islam, but there’s really only one Islam, defined as submission to the will of God. There’s nothing moderate about it.

Reason: So when even a hard-line critic of Islam such as Daniel Pipes says, «Radical Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution,» he’s wrong?

Hirsi Ali: He’s wrong. Sorry about that.

Reason: Explain to me what you mean when you say we have to stop the burning of our flags and effigies in Muslim countries. Why should we care?

Hirsi Ali: We can make fun of George Bush. He’s our president. We elected him. And the queen of England, they can make fun of her within Britain and so on. But on an international level, this has gone too far. You know, the Russians, they don’t burn American flags. The Chinese don’t burn American flags. Have you noticed that? They don’t defile the symbols of other civilizations. The Japanese don’t do it. That never happens.

Reason: Isn’t that a double standard? You want us to be able to say about Islam whatever we want—and I certainly agree with that. But then you add that people in Muslim countries should under all circumstances respect our symbols, or else.

Hirsi Ali: No, no, no.

Reason: We should be able to piss on a copy of the Koran or lampoon Muhammad, but they shouldn’t be able to burn the queen in effigy. That’s not a double standard?

Hirsi Ali: No, that’s not what I’m saying. In Iran a nongovernmental organization has collected money, up to 150,000 British pounds, to kill Salman Rushdie. That’s a criminal act, but we are silent about that.

Reason: We are?

Hirsi Ali: Yes. What happened? Have you seen any political response to it?

Reason: The fatwa against Rushdie has been the subject of repeated official anger and protests since 1989.

Hirsi Ali: I don’t know. The British sailors who were kidnapped this year—what happened? Nothing happened. The West keeps giving the impression that it’s OK, so the extremists will get away with it. Saudi Arabia is an economic partner, a partner in defense. On the other hand, they—Saudi Arabia, wealthy Saudi people—spread Islam. They have a sword on their flag. That’s the double standard.

Reason: I want my government to protest the Rushdie fatwa. I’m not so sure they ought to diplomatically engage some idiots burning a piece of cloth or a straw figure in the streets of Islamabad. Isn’t there a huge difference between the two?

Hirsi Ali: It’s not just a piece of cloth. It’s a symbol. In a tribal mind-set, if I’m allowed to take something and get away with it, I’ll come back and take some more. In fact, I’ll come and take the whole place, especially since it’s my holy obligation to spread Islam to the outskirts of the earth and I know I’ll be rewarded in heaven. At that point, I’ve only done my religious obligation while you’re still sitting there rationalizing that your own flag is a piece of cloth.

We have to get serious about this. The Egyptian dictatorship would not allow many radical imams to preach in Cairo, but they’re free to preach in giant mosques in London. Why do we allow it?

Reason: You’re in favor of civil liberties, but applied selectively?

Hirsi Ali: No. Asking whether radical preachers ought to be allowed to operate is not hostile to the idea of civil liberties; it’s an attempt to save civil liberties. A nation like this one is based on civil liberties, and we shouldn’t allow any serious threat to them. So Muslim schools in the West, some of which are institutions of fascism that teach innocent kids that Jews are pigs and monkeys—I would say in order to preserve civil liberties, don’t allow such schools.

Reason: In Holland, you wanted to introduce a special permit system for Islamic schools, correct?

Hirsi Ali: I wanted to get rid of them. I wanted to have them all closed, but my party said it wouldn’t fly. Top people in the party privately expressed that they agreed with me, but said, «We won’t get a majority to do that,» so it never went anywhere.

Reason: Well, your proposal went against Article 23 of the Dutch Constitution, which guarantees that religious movements may teach children in religious schools and says the government must pay for this if minimum standards are met. So it couldn’t be done. Would you in fact advocate that again?

Hirsi Ali: Oh, yeah.

Reason: Here in the United States, you’d advocate the abolition of—

Hirsi Ali: All Muslim schools. Close them down. Yeah, that sounds absolutist. I think 10 years ago things were different, but now the jihadi genie is out of the bottle. I’ve been saying this in Australia and in the U.K. and so on, and I get exactly the same arguments: The Constitution doesn’t allow it. But we need to ask where these constitutions came from to start with—what’s the history of Article 23 in the Netherlands, for instance? There were no Muslim schools when the constitution was written. There were no jihadists. They had no idea.

Reason: Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights—documents from more than 200 ago—ought to change?

Hirsi Ali: They’re not infallible. These Western constitutions are products of the Enlightenment. They’re products of reason, and reason dictates that you can only progress when you can analyze the circumstances and act accordingly. So now that we live under different conditions, the threat is different. Constitutions can be adapted, and they are, sometimes. The American Constitution has been amended a number of times. With the Dutch Constitution, I think the latest adaptation was in 1989. Constitutions are not like the Koran—nonnegotiable, never-changing.

Look, in a democracy, it’s like this: I suggest, «Let’s close Muslim schools.» You say, «No, we can’t do it.» The problem that I’m pointing out to you gets bigger and bigger. Then you say, «OK, let’s somehow discourage them,» and still the problem keeps on growing, and in another few years it gets so bad that I belatedly get what I wanted in the first place.

I respect that it needs to happen this way, but there’s a price for the fact that you and I didn’t share these insights earlier, and the longer we wait, the higher the price. In itself the whole process is not a bad thing. People and communities and societies learn through experience. The drawback is, in this case, that «let’s learn from experience» means other people’s lives will be taken.

Reason: Tolerance is probably the most powerful word there is in the Netherlands. No other word encapsulates better what the Dutch believe really defines them. That makes it very easy for people to say that when they’re being criticized, they’re not being tolerated—and from there it’s only a small step to saying they’re being discriminated against or they’re the victims of Islamophobia or racism or what have you.

Hirsi Ali: We have to revert to the original meaning of the term tolerance. It meant you agreed to disagree without violence. It meant critical self-reflection. It meant not tolerating the intolerant. It also came to mean a very high level of personal freedom.

Then the Muslims arrived, and they hadn’t grown up with that understanding of tolerance. In short order, tolerance was now defined by multiculturalism, the idea that all cultures and religions are equal. Expectations were created among the Muslim population. They were told they could preserve their own culture, their own religion. The vocabulary was quickly established that if you criticize someone of color, you’re a racist, and if you criticize Islam, you’re an Islamophobe.

Reason: The international corollary to the word tolerance is probably respect. The alleged lack of respect has become a perennial sore spot in relations between the West and Islam. Salman Rushdie receiving a British knighthood supposedly signified such a lack of respect, as did the Danish cartoons last year, and many other things. Do you believe this is what Muslims genuinely crave—respect?

Hirsi Ali: It’s not about respect. It’s about power, and Islam is a political movement.

Reason: Uniquely so?

Hirsi Ali: Well, it hasn’t been tamed like Christianity. See, the Christian powers have accepted the separation of the worldly and the divine. We don’t interfere with their religion, and they don’t interfere with the state. That hasn’t happened in Islam.

But I don’t even think that the trouble is Islam. The trouble is the West, because in the West there’s this notion that we are invincible and that everyone will modernize anyway, and that what we are seeing now in Muslim countries is a craving for respect. Or it’s poverty, or it’s caused by colonization.

The Western mind-set—that if we respect them, they’re going to respect us, that if we indulge and appease and condone and so on, the problem will go away—is delusional. The problem is not going to go away. Confront it, or it’s only going to get bigger.

hele intervjuet med Rogier van Bakel (freelance journalist and runs the blog Nobody’s Business)

The Trouble Is the West’

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Islam, immigration, civil liberties, and the fate of the West.