After describing the Prophet Mohammed as a pervert, Ayaan Hirsi Ali already needs round-the-clock protection from the Dutch security services.
Mrs Hirsi Ali, who has risen from Somali asylum seeker to Dutch MP in 12 years, produced the film broadcast on Dutch television on Sunday night to highlight the continued oppression of Muslim women in Europe.
The 11-minute programme, Submission, depicts a young Muslim girl confronting Allah at prayer in a mosque. She wears the veil, covering most of the face, but her voluptuous body is clearly visible through a transparent gown.
“All praise to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds,” begins the text painted across the actress’s throat, which then scrolls down her bare chest. It is taken from the fatiha or opening of the Koran, the lines recited aloud by men, and silently by women, at Muslim prayer five times a day throughout the world.
Four other women act out scenes of torment and repression. One battered victim in a torn dress, exposes her shoulders and arms covered with lash wounds and the text of Verse 34, Chapter 4, The Women.
“Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made them excel and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient. Those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them,” it says.
The broadcast was watched by 750,000 people, a large audience in a country of 16 million. An estimated one million are Muslims of Turkish or North African origin.
Mrs Hirsi Ali, 34, an MP for the free-market Liberals, has emerged as the unlikely heir of Pim Fortuyn, the homosexual firebrand who launched a mass movement to defend Holland’s easy-going way of life against radical imams.
While shunning his party, she has pursued his message, denouncing the country’s 30-year experiment with multiculturalism – including 700 Islamic clubs funded by the taxpayer – as a disastrous error born of “misplaced guilt”.
Low-level fatwas – or death edicts – have been raining down since she attacked Islam as a medieval, misogynist cult incapable of self-criticism and blind to modern science.
Mrs Hirsi Ali said she chose the naked body formula to open up the opaque world of Islam and show that there is a human being behind the veil.
Steven Huismans, the director of Holland’s Institute for Multicultural Development, said: “What she is doing is really provocative.” Nabil Marouch, the head of the Dutch wing of the Arabic European League, said: “If the public keeps listening to Ayaan Hirsi, it will do great damage to integration.”
But Mrs Hirsi Ali has become immensely popular among the ordinary Dutch, people who have been shocked by the sudden emergence of large Muslim enclaves in their cities – often with ties to militant anti-western groups. A parliamentary report this year found that more than 70 per cent of Dutch-born Muslims were bringing in spouses from their home countries, perpetuating a separatist sub-culture.
Mrs Hirsi Ali arrived in Holland as a penniless refugee in 1992 after sneaking across the German border to escape a forced marriage to a Somali kinsman. She did not speak a word of Dutch. Finding jobs as a cleaner, she went on to study political science at Leiden University.
Her ambition now is nothing less than a reformation of Islam.
Aug. 31, 2004
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels