Ayaan Hirsi Ali Draws Criticism From Fellow Atheists

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By Kimberly Winston – ReligionNews.com

(RNS) A campus appearance by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the outspoken Muslim-turned-atheist activist, is being challenged again, this time at Yale University where she is scheduled to speak Monday night (Sept. 15).

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, photographed at the Neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

While her previous campus critics have included members of religious groups, especially Muslims, this time the critics include Ali’s fellow ex-Muslims and atheists.

“We do not believe Ayaan Hirsi Ali represents the totality of the ex-Muslim experience,” members of Yale Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics posted on Facebook Friday (Sept. 12). “Although we acknowledge the value of her story, we do not endorse her blanket statements on all Muslims and Islam.”

Those statements include calling Islam “the new fascism” and “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.” She has called for the closing of Muslim schools in the West, where she settled after immigrating from her native Somalia, and is a vocal advocate for the rights of women and girls in Islam.

The students’ statement continued: “We believe Ayaan Hirsi Ali represents a sadly common voice in the atheist community that attacks and provokes, rather than contributes to constructive criticism or dialogue.”

Ali will speak at the invitation of the William F. Buckley Jr. Program, a student organization that describes itself as committed to diversity. Thirty-five other Yale groups have expressed concern over the invitation.

In April, Brandeis University rescinded its offer of an honorary degree to Ali when student groups protested. While no Yale group has officially called for the cancellation of her appearance, several groups have asked that additional speakers be given a chance to counter her presentation.

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