Monday, June 27, 2011
Arab uprisings may pave way for extremism'
MARK DONIG JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
Prominent Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali warns “the threat of radical Islam to all of us, particularly Israel and America, is not just a military threat."
WASHINGTON – Prominent Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali has warned that the current Arab uprisings may pose new threats for Islamic extremism to extend its influence not only through overt violence, but also through nonviolent political means.
The first of five Speaker of Truth award honorees at the pro-Israel Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)’s annual Rays of Light in the Darkness Dinner in Washington on Wednesday night, the Somali-born Ali argued in a live video speech that “The threat of radical Islam to all of us, particularly Israel and America, is not just a military threat. It’s more insidious than that.” Ali, a former Dutch politician currently serving as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, made specific mention of the dangers posed by the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. “The leadership of radical Islam has a radical agenda that gets most of attention, but [there is] also a nonviolent agenda,” Ali said. “The Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamist organizations are right there in our midst.”
Ali’s comments come as Egypt prepares for its most democratic election in decades, in which the Muslim Brotherhood is projected to take a substantial proportion of the vote.
Ali touched on her personal encounter with Islamic extremism through her family and upbringing, warning about its impact on individuals’ development.
Ultimately, Ali argued, success in countering extremism must arise from countering the narrative of violence she charged is pervasive in radical Islamic culture so that new generations of Muslims would not be lured into extremism.
Ali said she would use the award as a new platform to help persuade others of the need to “not only understand where the threats come from, but to develop a counter-narrative. Just because you are a Muslim, it does not mean you are doomed to become an Islamist.”
“I think we can win that battle,” she declared.
EMET Founding Director Sarah Stern opened the dinner with a cry for US action in light of the current “Arab hurricane.”
Ms. Stern called on US President Barack Obama to cease military shipments to an increasingly bellicose Egypt, and to stop funding of the Palestinian Authority, which recently agreed to form a unity government with Hamas.
Stern also urged the current administration to openly call for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying that since Obama’s May 19 speech in which he called for Assad to either lead Syria to democracy or step aside, “[the United States] has done nothing over the past month to help the Syrians.”
In not taking these steps, Stern argued, the “only nation empowered... is Iran.”
EMET, whose acronym means “truth” in Hebrew, awarded the Speaker of Truth awards at its annual dinner Wednesday night.
Other awardees included Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona), who gave an impassioned speech on his commitment as an Evangelical Christian to the Jewish state, as well as Palestinian Media Watch founder Itamar Marcus and Iranian human rights activist Manda Zand Ervin. Sen.
Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) was also honored but was unable to attend the ceremony.