Ayaan Hirsi Ali Supports Missionaries?

I’m on the mailing list of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the humanist and author of Infidel. In the latest newsletter from her AHA Foundation I got this message:

“Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Muslim human-rights activist who lives under armed guard for fear of her life, is author of the powerful new book “Nomad.” As secular as they come, she advocates that Christians become more active in countering the growing reach of Islamic radicalism in the Western world with their own outreach program.

“Next to every mosque, build a Christian center, an enlightenment center, a feminist center,” Hirsi Ali explained. “There are tons of websites, financed with Saudi money, promoting Wahabism. We need to set up our own websites – Christian, feminist, humanist – trying to target the same people, saying, we have an alternative moral framework to Islam. We have better ideas.”

Uh…yeah. This is a really bad idea. Many developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, already have quite a few Western Christians preying on their weaknesses in order to foment fundamentalism. I recommend Ali read about the anti-gay laws in Uganda which were strongly supported by US evangelicals.

Ali really needs to be careful. Her personal past with Islam could easily lead her into the hands of fundamentalist Christians, many of which are as intolerant and nefarious as the worst Muslim fundamentalists of her Somalia. Islam and Christianity both originated from elsewhere and became widespread in Africa through aggressive proselytizing.

As for humanist and feminist centers, I’m all for the former and possibly for the latter, depending on what kind of feminism it is that we’re talking about.

  • Rob

    I would like to know which nefarious Christian fundamentalists Ms. Hirsi might be contaminated by who support honor killings or kill Christians who convert to other religions? The stretch for moral equivalence here is, well, a stretch.

  • Michael O. Powell

    If you want to see extremist Christianity, look up recent Irish history, Uganda’s anti-gay laws or the history of Christianity before modern secular democracy.

  • Michael O. Powell

    Not to mention the leader of the largest denomination of Christianity taking a “nothing to see here” approach to systematic pederasty.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Don’t forget the current witch hunts which abuse, abandon and kill children in NIgeria.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    Also the support given to psychotic dictators like Charles Taylor.

    I haven’t looked at this issue in any systematic, comprehensive way. What I have noticed, though, makes me suspect that Africa is viewed today by the evangelical community the way the Native Americans were viewed 150 years ago – as a backward people to be brought into the fold of God’s Kingdom. The Christian missions to the Native American tribes were, from the tribes perspective, a disaster; providing them with abusive schools that gave poor educations, destroyed the bonds of family & culture etc.

    In effect, there is a destructive filter in evangelical philosophy – that which is outside the Bible is worthless and to be discarded unstudied.

  • Rob

    Thanks for the responses. I asked out of ignorance, more than defensiveness. While there are extremist bad apples among Christians, I think most Christian groups are benevolent. Also, notice that she is talking about Christian (and humanist and feminist) outreach in the Western world, not sub-Saharan Africa so I don’t see that her statement has much to do with “foment[ing] fundamentalism” in Africa.

  • Michael Powell

    Rob, that’s generally true that Christianity appears more benevolent. That’s mostly because our society has become secularized (and in a democratic manner as opposed to how the communists did it). Religions have to compete with one another peacefully, which I think is what Ali is getting at. I’m a fan of hers but there are passages in her book where she slips from the secular humanist outlook and gets dangerously close to the Christianity is better than Islam one.

    Building a church right next to a mosque, even in the most liberal parts of America, seems like it would be a major act of passive aggressiveness. The possibility for confrontation, especially in the contentious atmosphere of today, warrants a tepid approach.

  • Michael O. Powell

    That’s a pretty good assessment, terran. I hadn’t actually thought of it in those circumstances but now that you summed it up that way, it makes perfect sense.