Switzerland, for instance, came to the conclusion. . . that if this is a political movement then it should not camouflage itself in religious garb. It’s not a religious movement; it’s a political movement. We should treat it as such. And, in this international Islamic political movement, to erect tall minarets is a way of claiming territory. So the Swiss decision comes from: “No, this is not Muslim political territory. This is Swiss political territory. If you do want to pray, there are various mosques and you can build more.”
In France, the headscarf is not banned; the burqa is banned. And the burqa has this dual role where . . . it is [also] a political symbol and the women who wear it enforce it. They force it on other women who do not do not want to wear it. This is very complex and Europe is dealing with [that complexity] right now.
BECAUSE OF YOUR OUTSPOKEN VIEWS, YOU NEED 24-HOUR SECURITY. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR SECURITY REQUIREMENTS AND WHAT IT’S LIKE TO LIVE WITH THESE RESTRICTIONS? I’m going to apologize by saying that’s the only question I will not answer. If I answer it and you publish it, that of course compromises my security.
BUT CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE EMOTIONAL TOLL THAT CONSTANT SECURITY HAS HAD ON YOU? Well, it’s not ideal — I can tell you that — to live with a huge number of constraints. I know that I’m free to say I don’t want to live with these constraints, but then I have to live with the risk.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU MISS ABOUT ISLAM? I miss my parents. There was always this sense of belonging that you never really think about [until you leave]. You belong somewhere. It’s just unconscious. It’s just how it is and then you get out and then you constantly have to adapt and adapt and adapt and that is a problem.
I would say 10 years ago I missed it more strongly than I miss it now and the 10 years prior to that it was even stronger. The first 10 years in Holland were the hardest.
I think the best answer is to say I’m not condemning everything about Islam. There are very specific elements — particularly this mix of politics and government, the treatment of women, the treatment of homosexuals, this antagonist and hostile attitude toward people who are not Muslim, and the persecution of minority sects in Muslim majority countries and Christians and Jews. That is the kind of thing that I condemn. Ayaan Hirsi Ali will speak at the Central Congregational Church (296 Angell St, Providence) on Friday, October 18 at 7 pm. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more info, go to centralchurch.us.