Spinning a yarn

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Ayaan Hirsi

A Salaam contributor disentangles fact from fiction in the case of Ayaan Hirsi

There is great temptation to indulge in school-yard taunts of ‘liar, liar, pants on fire’, but a more restrained and nuanced response is appropriate in view of the overwhelming gullibility of the many western rent-a-crowd for a just cause mob.

Media pundits – the sozzled Christopher Hitchens, myopic Melanie Phillips and Nick ‘don’t let facts get in way’ Cohen – and academics searching for a cause to pin their colours to Timothy Garton-Ash  and born-again dime a dozen Islamophobes  Daniel Pipes and his ilk  have surely come unstuck with the revelations that their favourite anti- Islam pin-up, Ayaan Hirsi Whatsname, is not what she is made out to be.

These members of the Hirsi fan club can support whoever they want but more often then not they end up on the same side as the most rabid, racist wingnuts (left and right) you could possibly imagine. But then birds of a feather…

So let’s unpack some of the truths, half truths and untruths of Whatsname.

Fiction: She said her name was Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Fancy that!: Her real name is Ayaan Hirsi Magan. She said she changed it to prevent her family from finding her after running out on her new husband during a visit to Germany. Arrived in the Netherlands in 1992, navigated her way through the asylum process in the Netherlands, lying the whole way through, and taking advantage of the good-heartedness of the system. She was granted asylum here in a record five weeks

Fiction: She told Dutch authorities she was born in 1967.
Fancy that!: She was born in 1969. She said she lied to prevent Dutch authorities from tracking her real identity.

Fiction: She claimed to have fled to Holland from war-torn Somalia.
Fancy that!: She caught a train from Germany, following her marriage to a Canadian cousin, after spending more than a decade in Kenya. She spent only seven years in Somalia as a young girl.

Fact: She received an accolade by Time magazine
Fancy that!: So did Hitler, Stalin and Bush

Fiction: That she is showing great courage by standing up virtually alone against death threats she received from militant Muslims.
Fancy that!: The Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland claimed in 2002 that she’s made up the death threats

Fiction!: That she bravely tells her community the things they need to hear.
Fancy that: Which community? She doesn’t give a rat’s backside about anyone. Besides, her credibility is zero right now.

Fiction: That she bravely tells the truth about Islamic militants and the ultra-conservative aspects of Islam.
Fancy that!: So have hundreds of others who have not built a career on a base lie.

Fact: In January 2006, received the Reader’s Digest “European of the Year” award.
Fancy that!: On 4 May 2006, Hirsi Ali accepted the Moral Courage Award from the American Jewish Committee; sharing the accolades – Melanie Phillips, recipient of the Mass Media Award Presentation.

Ayaan Whatsname is now abandoning the smugness of her right-wing political activism in the Netherlands and snuggling up to that other bastion of self-righteousness – the American Enterprise Institute. Oh what perfect bed fellows they make!

It’s a dream come true for the neocon establishment as they rescue this fabled exotic damsel in distress. What would US Customs and Immigration make of this? After all she is just another illegal immigrant!