Monday, November 24, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Responds To Brandeis' Withdrawal Of Honorary Degree Over Islam Criticism

By Bianca Facchinei b.facchinei@hngn.com | Apr 10, 2014 11:27 AM EDT

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
(Photo : Wiki Commons)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women's rights activist and critic of Islam, responded to Brandeis University's decision to rescind on giving her an honorary degree, FoxNews.com reported.

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During an appearance on "The Kelly File" on Wednesday, Hirsi Ali said she was not surprised by the school's action.

"Everytime I say, 'Hey, it's important that we talk about this' ... you have people like (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) who deny this," Ali told host Megyn Kelly. "This should be addressed."

She also expressed her surprise that she was offered an honorary degree in the first place, given most people aware of her work are familiar with her specific criticisms of Islam.

"I'm used to it," Ali said. "What surprised me is the decision by Brandeis, first to say we want to give you this honor, we know what you do. In the age of Google, all of this is out there, it's all public."

In the end, she believes the university was afraid of offending Muslims.

"There's always this fear that if you insult Muslims, there's going to be some kind of violent repercussion," she said. "They're not doing their students any favors, and they're not doing their Muslim students any favors."

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts college announced they would no longer award Hirsi Ali with the degree due to previous comments she made on Islam. She once called the religion a "nihilistic cult of death" and suggested the prophet Muhammed would be considered a pedophile according to modern standards.

"She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women's rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. We cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values," the university said in a statement. "We regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier."

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Kelly that Hirsi Ali -- who renounced her Muslim faith in her 30s after undergoing genital mutilation and forced marriage -- has a bias against all Muslims and not just extremists.

"When a prestigious university like Brandeis is about to honor her and endorse her views, that's when we speak out," he said.

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