I read this fascinating interview in The Australian’s Weekend Magazine yesterday. Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks both eloquently and succinctly about Islam and the West and the idea that by respecting ‘cultural differences’ and practicing extreme caution in what is said about fundamentalists and extremists, we are ‘muzzling free speech.’

When asked if she thought the West needed to be less apologist, Hirsi Ali responded;

Absolutely. A culture that considers women to be masters of their own lives is better than one that mutilates girls’ genitals and confines them behind walls and veils them or flogs them for falling in love with the wrong person. A culture that appoints a woman to the Supreme Court is better than a culture that declares that the testimony of a women is worth half that of a man. The West should not fall into the trap of tolerating intolerance.

How tolerant the West should be about certain Islamic practices is a current topic du jour, particularly in Europe, courtesy of France, Belgium and Switzerland. The upshot of global religious/cultural/ethical/moral debate is the slew of thought provoking writing it produces. Another terrific article, terrific in its successful elucidation of the difference between morals and ethics and how it plays into the face-covering veil, is one by Elizabeth Farrelly.

She writes;

Democracy pivots on the universal franchise; the presumption for each individual of a public identity, as well as a private one. To cover someone’s face in public, to reduce them to a walking tent, is to declare them lacking such identity, destroying any possibility of their meaningful public existence. It is, literally, to efface them.

Food for thought – and we should always be thinking.

Read the full interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali here. Excerpt courtesy of The Australian.

Read the full Elizabeth Farrelly article, Let’s Face Facts, the burqa is an affront to feminism, here. Excerpt courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald.