You guys know me — I’m not the type to be raising money for the cause-of-the-week. But for the first time in two years, I want to use the blog to request money for a good cause.
What’s the cause? It’s free speech. A few months ago I read a moving article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the web. She told her life story, and how she has stood up against extremism in her country. I was so moved that I wrote Ayann and told her it was important to speak out — that no matter what the death threats were, society can only make progress by people having the courage to talk about things. No, I’m not talking about some fat cushy anti-war protester who is marching in a parade claiming to speak “truth to power” — I’m talking about somebody who other people are trying to kill. That takes a special kind of courage that a lot of people just don’t have. Most people would rather have the “good feeling” of protesting without the moral baggage and uncertainty that comes with truly challenging political speech.
Ayaan wrote me back a day or two later. It was a nice note, and I was impressed that she took some time to write.
I’ll let Wiki tell more — you should pop over and read the entire article, though.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, MA (pronunciation (help·info); Somali: Ayaan Xirsi Cali; born Ayaan Hirsi Magan 13 November 1969 in Mogadishu, Somalia) is a Dutch feminist and political writer, daughter of the Somali scholar, politician, and revolutionary opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse. When she was eight, her family left Somalia for Saudi Arabia, then Ethiopia, and eventually settled in Kenya. She sought and obtained political asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, under circumstances that later became the centre of a political controversy.
She is a prominent and controversial author, film maker, and critic of Islam. Her writings, especially her screenplay Submission and her autobiography Infidel, led to death threats from numerous Muslim organizations and individuals, which forced her to live under guard and in relative seclusion.
She was a member of the Tweede Kamer (the Lower House of the States-General of the Netherlands) for the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) from January 30, 2003 until May 16, 2006. A political crisis surrounding the potential stripping of her Dutch citizenship led to her resignation from the parliament, and indirectly to the fall of the second Balkenende cabinet.
She has received numerous awards for her human rights work, and in 2005, was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She is currently a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
As of October 2007 she has been doing this work from a secret address in the Netherlands. Following the murder of Theo Van Gogh, the Dutch government had been financing round the clock security for her. However, they decided to stop paying for protection while she is living abroad. As a result, Hirsi Ali returned to the Netherlands.
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