Norway’s Very Own Ayaan Hirsi Ali

By Bruce Bawer, Pyjamas Media

Storhaug: victim of a full-scale media assault

Racist. Xenophobe. These are just a couple of the epithets Europe’s cultural elite like to hurl at critics of Islamic fundamentalism. Bruce Bawer reports on the character assassination of Hege Storhaug, author of the new book Covered. Uncovered. and a courageous advocate of freedom.

As Europe’s Islamization proceeds apace, the gap widens between ordinary folks’ growing recognition of the outrages that are going on all around them and the movers and shakers’ cynical insistence on pretending that everything’s just hunky-dory.

Case in point: the responses to Covered. Uncovered., a new book on hijab. Its author, Hege Storhaug of Norway’s Human Rights Service, is this country’s answer to Ayaan Hirsi Ali – a gutsy advocate of freedom who doesn’t mince words about the illiberal conditions (especially for women and girls) in Europe’s Muslim communities.

In Covered. Uncovered. she explains why the increasing visibility in these parts of hijab – a potent symbol of totalitarianism and sexual oppression – should not be taken lightly.

The result? A full-scale media assault – marked not by honest engagement with Storhaug’s arguments but by lies, more lies, and sheer personal abuse. Norway’s Dagbladet alone has published pieces by Amin Asskali of the Arabic Student Association, who accused the “woman-hating” Storhaug of “creating intolerance”; by Iffit Qureshi, who labeled her a “totalitarian…out to crush religious freedom”; and by Dagbladet opinion editor (and, ahem, former head of the Communist group Red Youth) Marte Michelet, whose litany of charges against Storhaug included “burkaphobia,” an “irrational fear of Islam,” “paranoid delusions,” and “hateful contempt” for Muslim girls.

“It is absolutely crucial,” said Michelet in a radio interview, “that Hege Storhaug’s campaign to undermine the Muslim religious minority’s rights in Norway be stopped.”

Yes: “Storhaug’s campaign…must be stopped.”

As some readers will recall, it was just this sort of rhetoric that led to the 2002 murder of Pim Fortuyn. Fortuyn, like Storhaug, believed passionately in individual rights – but because he dared to point out that many Dutch Muslims despised those rights, his country’s pols, profs, and pundits labeled him a racist and xenophobe (precisely the words, by the way, that Magnus E. Marsdal, a veteran of the Communist organizations Attac and Red Youth and of the Communist newspaper Klassekampen, hurled at Storhaug the other day on taxpayer-supported Norwegian public radio). In short, Fortuyn was demonized as a threat to the very liberty he was fighting to preserve. Among those who heard that this fascist must be stopped was a man named Volkert van der Graaf. The rest is history.

Fortuyn’s murder should have put an end to the character assassinations of the advocates of freedom. Nope. Instead they’ve only grown more sophisticated. Nowadays when someone like Ayaan Hirsi Ali assails Islamic fundamentalism, the clever thing to do is call her a fundamentalist – because she’s so uncompromising in her insistence on liberty, get it? In this spirit, a hijab-clad Dagbladet staffer compared Storhaug’s call for Muslim women to “take the hijab off and embrace freedom” to “the rhetoric of the bearded fundamentalists” – thus equating an advocate for the victims of forced marriage and honor killing with the perpetrators of these barbarities.

Such, in 2007, is cultural elite’s line on Islam. But who’s buying it? To scroll down on newspaper websites from the anti-Storhaug screeds by reporters, bureaucrats, professors, etc., to readers’ comments – which number in the thousands – is to turn from multicultural mendacity and vile ad hominem invective to commonsensical comebacks by sane citizens who prize liberty.

Responding, for example, to Qureshi’s insistence that we shouldn’t allow “the fear of the unknown [i.e., Islam] to control us,” one reader noted dryly that at this point Islam is hardly an “unknown.” Another answered Asskali’s description of Islam as woman-friendly: “Yes, we can see this…in practice in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.” Yet another directly addressed Michelet and social geographer Kirsten Øvregaard (who, in assaulting Storhaug, had compared hijab favorably to Western girls’ “sexualized attire”): “What will you do on the day your daughters are forced to wear hijab? Why do you hate your own culture and embrace one that degrades and oppresses women? I just don’t get it.”

“Do you think we’re entirely brainwashed?” one indignant reader asked Asskali. But that’s precisely the goal of Asskali and his bien pensant accomplices: to convince the public that the problem here isn’t him, or his religion, but people like Hege Storhaug. As Dagbladet reader Hans-Christian Holm cogently put it, Norway’s media are engaged in “a sick tolerance competition, in which whoever tolerates the most intolerance wins, and the one who suggests that we perhaps should not tolerate so much intolerance is automatically branded as the most intolerant of all.”

And it’s not just happening in Norway, of course. The question is: how much longer can the tension continue to intensify between the plain, unvarnished truth and the outrageous flimflam churned out by a cowardly and conscienceless elite?

November 2, 2007 | 3 Comments »

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