I discovered the article below while searching for anything Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali activist against Islam, might have said about the current famine in Somalia. Despite gaining European residency by falsely claiming to be a Somali refugee from a previous Somali famine (1992)--and doing so illegally via the Netherlands (she should have made any refugee claims in Germany, her first entry point into the EU, on her arrival from Kenya where she had lived for years)--Hirsi Ali (the false name she used to hide her identity as Magan Ali) seems to have nothing whatsoever to say about the plight of the current, and most devastating, famine in Somalia in decades. She did, however, figure prominently in the article, which was published in the Huffington Post and is copied below for discussion, on atheists crusading against Muslim immigration in order to maintain a Christian Europe.
Hirsi Ali currently advocates that Muslims turn to Christianity, while remaining an atheist herself. She elaborated on this in a recent interview on Canada's new Faux News channel, Sun Television:
At 2:00ff on all Muslims living in all countries; 2:55ff on Muslims living in Canada
At 7:31ff on the Norway massacre; on Christians excluded from discourse in Europe to use peaceful means to combat Islam
At 10:30ff on her trajectory from being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporting the death fatwa against Salman Rushie to her present positions
At 13:33ff Hirsi Ali claims that Iranians, Egyptians, and Saudis are taking an intellectual journey via the internet from Islam to Christianity in significant numbers.
As usual there is faux information in Hirsi Ali's reasoning. Being a Muslim in Canada is not "extremely difficult". Most Muslims find it extremely easy. Canada is respectful of religious rights and accommodates the beliefs and practices of all religious groups, and ethno-cultural practices that don't contravene law. For example German-Canadians cannot put real candles on their Christmas trees because it contravenes fire regulations. On a deeper issue, no one in Canada can perform female genital excision for ethno-cultural reasons or in the false belief that it is a religious practice--Islam does not require or promote female genital excision; minimal cutting as a cultural practice is tolerated for Muslims living in areas where it is a cultural practice independent of religion--as it contravenes Canadian medical law.
There are false controversies in Canada about wearing the niqab--for example the political ploy of claiming Muslim women were trying to vote with the niqab on. No Muslim woman had tried or wanted to do so. Moreover, no one needs to reveal their face to vote in Canada. There are other security measures to ensure identity. The last time I voted (in the Federal Election this year), I specifically asked about it at the registration desk and at the voting booth. 3 attendants had the same reaction: calmly stating that 2 pieces of ID from a list they reached for would suffice. I was voting in one of 2 ridings I legally could vote in, the one with few Muslims. Still, the electoral officers were well trained and well prepared for this hypothetical question--thanks to the false controversy.
Hirsi Ali also agrees implicitly with the interviewer that honour killings are a serious problem in Canada, as if they were frequent. They are a serious problem in the sense that homicide is a serious act, but are rare statistically. They occur primarily among recent South Asian immigrants, and among Hindus more than Muslims. The Muslim ones make the most headlines though, and fuel the hijab-niqab fire.
Hirsi Ali previously gave this memorable interview on a similar theme to Stephen Colbert:
4:10ff on her not being a Christian and preferring Enlightment philosophers to Jesus Christ
5:40ff on going to Church and receiving "the little thing...thing", "the waffle", and putting it into her pocket
In this interview, Hirsi Ali advocates proselytizing Christianity as an antidote to Wahhabi proselytizers of "the true Islam". It is hard to know what to make of this statement, except to remember that when she was in a Saudi run school as an early adolescent she tried to out-Wahhabi the teachers. At best it is advocating something she does not believe in to counteract something she used to believe in. Proselytizing is inherently against the liberal thinkers of the Enlightenment and their advocacy of free speech and thought, and religious tolerance she does claim to believe in. Perhaps in this she is more of a utilitarian and cconsequentialist than a believer in freedom.
In citing her preference for Enlightenment philosophers John Locke and John Stuart Mill (and even Jewish comedian Jon Stewart) to Jesus Christ, Hirsi Ali implies that both were atheists. John Locke moved within Christianity from Calvinism through Socianism to Arian belief--but remained a Christian, and was buried in Christ Church Cathedral. John Stuart Mill was an Anglican, and although he refused to join the Anglican priesthood, he was godfather to younger philosopher Bertrand Russel, and was buried in a Catholic cemetery in Avignon alongside his wife.
While Roman Catholic Stephen Colbert does an admirable and humourously accurate job of explaining the "host" of Holy Communion to Hirsi Ali, one would think that she would get a minimum of terminology and meaning correct before advocating proselytizing and converting to a religion to which she doesn't adhere, and about which she claims ignorance of a central premise--"I didn't know that so I put it in my pocket".
When I first saw this interview, I was struck that she seemed to imply someone had shoved a "waffle" into her hand, whereas one presents oneself for Communion in any Christian Church I have attended. Was her whole Church visit a fictitious anecdote? Or did she just present herself, an atheist, for Holy Communion--to what purpose?
The Livonian Knights of the Northern European Crusades
The Christian-Atheist Crusader, or the atheist proselytizing for Christianity, as a strategy of Islamophobes, explains the otherwise confusing stance and manifesto of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. Breivik is calm, cool, organized, methodical, and unrepentant because he has chosen an extreme means to wage a Crusade against the Labour Party and its youth, its future leaders, as enablers of the contemporary Muslim invasion of Norway. The members of the Labour Party are traitors to the Christian way of life in Norway, or at least colluding with the enemy, and so must be assassinated.
As the article explains, Breivik, while extreme in his means, is not alone in his beliefs. He is joined by prominent intellectuals like Niall Ferguson, and preceded by others like the well-known late Italian journalist Orianna Fallaci.
A 'Christian' Europe Without Christianity
By David Gibson
Religion News Service
First Posted: 8/13/11 08:32 AM ET Updated: 8/13/11 08:32 AM ET
(RNS) Does European Christendom need Christianity to survive?
It may seen an odd question for a religious culture that once stretched from Britain to the Bosphorus, born of a deep and diffuse faith that inspired great cathedrals and monasteries and filled them with believers for centuries.
But when right-wing extremist Anders Breivik killed 77 people in a horrific rampage in Norway last month, he highlighted a novel development in the history of the West: a burgeoning alliance between believers and nonbelievers to promote Europe's Christian identity.
"European Christendom and the cross will be the symbol in which every cultural conservative can unite under in our common defense," Breivik wrote in his rambling 1,500-page manifesto. "It should serve as the uniting symbol for all Europeans whether they are agnostic or atheists."
Whether Breivik himself can be considered a bona fide Christian given his lack of a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God," as he put it, was a topic of much debate. There was no doubt, however, that he was a devout believer "in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform."
In fact, that's been the case for any number of unbelievers for more than a decade.
One prominent example was the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, who spent her last years before her death in 2006 inveighing against a Muslim influx that was turning the continent into what she called "Eurabia."
Fallaci liked to describe herself as a "Christian atheist" -- an interesting turn of phrase -- because she thought Christianity provided Europe with a cultural and intellectual bulwark against Islam.
There's also Scottish-born historian and political conservative Niall Ferguson, who calls himself "an incurable atheist" but is also a vocal champion for restoring Christendom because, as he puts it, there isn't sufficient "religious resistance" in the West to radical Islam.
(Ferguson dedicated his latest book, "Civilization: The West and the Rest," to his new partner, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch atheist who has promoted the values of Christianity over those of her native Islam.)
The modern-day crusade for Christendom by nonbelievers tends to be rooted in fears about Muslim immigration, but it's also fueled by worries about the deterioration of European culture -- and nostalgia for the continent's once central place in world affairs.
For some atheists, retaining European identity is reason enough to set aside long-standing enmity between churches and nonbelievers that dates back to the secularism of the Enlightenment and the anti-clericalism of the French Revolution.
And unlike the persistent sniping between atheists and believers in the U.S., Europe's nonreligious conservatives have found ready allies in the continent's religious leaders -- most notably Pope Benedict XVI.
Even before he was elected pope in April 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was spearheading the Vatican effort, however unsuccessful, to have the European Union's new constitution recognize the continent's Christian heritage. He also rejected the idea of allowing Muslim Turkey into the EU. "Europe is a cultural continent," he told a French magazine, "not a geographical one."
As pope, Benedict eventually softened his opposition to Turkey's entry into the EU but continued to insist that Europe's Christian culture must be protected, even as religious belief among Europeans declined.
In August 2005, just a few months after his election as pope, Benedict met secretly with Fallaci, news that upset Muslims when it leaked out. Muslims were even angrier at the pontiff's controversial speech a year later in Regensburg, Germany, when he depicted Islam as prone to violence and alien to Christian Europe.
"Attempts at the 'Islamification' of the West cannot be denied," Benedict's closest aide, Monsignor Georg Ganswein, said in a 2007 interview. "And the associated danger for the identity of Europe cannot be ignored out of a wrongly understood sense of respect."
"The Catholic side sees this clearly," he added, "and says as much."
But some atheists see this as well, and are equally happy to say so.
One of Christendom's most prominent atheist advocates is the Italian philosopher and politician Marcello Pera. In 2004, he delivered a series of lectures with then-Cardinal Ratzinger that set out their shared view of the need to restore Christian identity in Europe in order to battle both Islam and moral degeneration.
Later, Benedict wrote a forward to Pera's book, "Why We Must Call Ourselves Christians," which promotes Benedict's argument that Western civilization can be saved if people live "as if God exists," whether they believe that or not.
It's not a new argument -- 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal held that even if God's existence cannot be proved, people ought to act as though God exists because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
But the updated version seems to be winning some converts. In a landmark ruling last March, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Italy could continue to display crucifixes in public school classrooms because the cross with Jesus on it is a "historical and cultural" symbol rather than a religious one.
While the Vatican welcomed that decision, others wonder whether the cost was too high -- essentially emptying a container of its meaning in order to preserve the cultural form.
And an empty container, no matter how attractive on the outside, can be filled with all manner of beliefs on the inside.
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