Author and Somali-born anti-Islam campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali has cancelled her speaking tour of Australia and New Zealand, blaming “security concerns” among “a number of reasons” for pulling out on the day she was due to arrive here.
Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia to a devout Muslim family, was a victim of childhood female genital mutilation and fled an arranged marriage for political asylum in the Netherlands and then entered politics, aligned with current prime minister Mark Rutte’s VVD (the People’s Party for Freedom).
After director Theo van Gogh, her collaborator in 2004 short film Submission, which attacked misogyny in the Koran, was killed, she fled to the US, where she continues to campaign against Islam and recently called for a ban on Muslim schools.
Hirsi Ali was due to deliver speeches in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne this week as part of a tour billed as “Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Hero of Heresy”.
Here’s part of how the event has been billed by promoters:
Infidel. Heretic. Apostate. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has courted controversy over her years in the public eye, earning widespread criticism amongst the liberal left and death threats from the religious right.
Critics have accused her with anti-Muslim hate speech, decrying her portrayal of the religion as a “nihilistic cult of death” and “the new fascism” in which violence is inherent. Other commentators like the late Christopher Hitchens praised her intellectual prowess, while novelist Roger L. Simon deemed her a “modern Joan of Arc”.
The Australian reports that around 2000 people had booked tickets for the talks, which had special security arrangements.
Organisers sent messages to journalists who had interviews scheduled, saying: “Ayaan Hirsi Ali regrets that for a number of reasons including security concerns, she must cancel her upcoming appearances in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland.”
She was due to appear on ABC TV’s Q&A panel show tonight.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) April 2, 2017
The Australian reports that the venues where Hirsi Ali was due to speak had received warnings that they would be surrounded by protestors.
There’s more here.
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