Brandeis University said Tuesday that it would not award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a campaigner for women’s rights and a fierce critic of Islam, who has called the religion “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.”
“We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” the university said in a statement released eight days after it had announced that Hirsi Ali and four other people would be honored at its commencement on May 18.
The university said that the president of Brandeis, Frederick M. Lawrence, discussed the matter with Hirsi Ali on Tuesday, and that she “is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue.”
The New York Times reported that after thousands of people signed a petition against honoring Hirsi Ali, the Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a letter to Dr. Lawrence, referring to her as a “notorious Islamophobe.”
“She is one of the worst of the worst of the Islam haters in America, not only in America but worldwide,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the group, said in an interview on Tuesday. “I don’t assign any ill will to Brandeis. I think they just kind of got fooled a little bit.”
In its statement, Brandeis said, “For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of” Hirsi Ali’s record of anti-Islam statements.
Hirsi Ali, who was forced to undergo genital mutilation when she was a girl, moved to the Netherlands as a young woman, and was later elected to the Dutch Parliament. She wrote the screenplay for “Submission,” a 2004 film critical of the treatment of Muslim women. Shortly after its release, the director, Theo van Gogh, was murdered on an Amsterdam street by a radical Islamist, who pinned to the victim’s body a threat to kill Hirsi Ali as well.
In her book, Infidel, she wrote: “By declaring our Prophet infallible and not permitting ourselves to question him, we Muslims had set up a static tyranny. The Prophet Muhammad attempted to legislate every aspect of life. By adhering to his rules of what is permitted and what is forbidden, we Muslims supressed the freedom to think for ourselves and to act as we chose. We froze the moral outlook of billions of people into the mind-set of the Arab desert in the seventh century. We were not just servants of Allah, we were slaves.”
After the 9/11 terror strikes, she wrote, a Dutch friend told her that the perpetrators were "a lunatic fringe" within Islam. "I walked into the office thinking, 'I have to wake these people up.' ...The Dutch had forgotten that it was possible for people to stand up and wage war, destroy property, imprison, kill, impose laws of virtue because of the call of God. That kind of religion hadn't been present in Holland for centuries. It was not a lunatic fringe who felt this way about America and the West. I knew that a vast mass of Muslims would see the attacks as justified retaliation against the infidel enemies of Islam.”
Disconnecting from Hamas
Several months ago, Brandeis severed ties with Hamas-linked Al Quds University after a "Nazi-style" rally outraged students on the partner campus. The university has campuses in Jerusalem and its environs.
Photos of the disturbing rally were posted on Tom Gross's blog November 6, and have aroused considerable controversy.
The Washington Free Beacon reported earlier that Brandeis University, the world's best-known Jewish institution of higher education, has partnered with the Hamas institute as a means of allegedly holding "dialogue."