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An Infidel Scorned

AJC Executive Director David Harris had a letter published in this week's New York Times Book Review regarding his disdain for Times' book critic Ian Buruma's review of Infidel. In the letter, Harris ardently defends Ali and criticizes Buruma for … Read More

By / March 25, 2007

AJC Executive Director David Harris had a letter published in this week's New York Times Book Review regarding his disdain for Times' book critic Ian Buruma's review of Infidel. In the letter, Harris ardently defends Ali and criticizes Buruma for his derision of her values.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her new book, “Infidel,” deserved better than Ian Buruma’s review (March 4). While expressing admiration for her “courage,” he rejects her “descriptions of life in the West” as “idealized,” with an “almost comic-book quality.” Elsewhere, he derides her view of the West as “a caricature of sweetness and light.” Meanwhile, he challenges the notion, presumably Hirsi Ali’s, that “Europeans who argue … that Muslims might feel more at home in the West if we offered a modicum of respect for their religion, instead of insulting them at every turn, are ‘stupid’ or worse.”

As to Buruma’s claim that Europe must show greater respect for Islam, the reality is that many European nations have done just that, in some cases bending over backward to accommodate religious beliefs and needs. And where there have been lapses, many have rushed to protest. But Hirsi Ali’s key point is that this must be a two-way street. Newcomers must respect and adapt to their host societies’ defining principles. If not, she contends, Europe will wake up one day and no longer recognize itself as a bastion of Enlightenment values.

 

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