The decision of Yale’s William F. Buckley Jr. Program to invite Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak on campus attracted significant controversy last week, with more than 30 student organizations signing a letter protesting her appearance, but her speech on Monday went off without confrontation or interruption.
Hirsi Ali, an activist for women’s rights in Islamic societies who was disinvited from speaking at Brandeis University earlier this year, received multiple standing ovations from the large crowd gathered at Yale. Hirsi Ali went after claims by the school’s Muslim Students Association that she lacked the scholarly credentials necessary to speak authoritatively on Islamic issues.
“Why is my experience relevant? Is it because I was raised a Muslim? Is it because I was married off or had my genitals cut? No,” she said.
“Ladies and gentlemen of Yale, every creed has a core and the core of Islam is to submit to the will of Allah,” Hirsi Ali said. “You can’t fight the symptoms of radical Islam, without addressing the core of Islam.” Over the last decade, she said, the U.S. has refused to face the source of the problem.
In advance of Monday’s event, the Yale MSA said Hirsi Ali’s past comments were libelous and slanderous and sought to have another speaker present to challenge Hirsi Ali’s statements. MSA board member Abrar Omeish declined to comment to NRO after the event, and pointed to a letter circulated by MSA and an opinion column she wrote in the Yale Daily News as representative of the group’s views.
Rich Lizardo, president of the Buckley Program, told NRO he thought the event went smoothly and jokingly apologized for the lack of conflict at the actual event. Hirsi Ali did not speak to reporters after the event, but did stop by a group of them to thank a Brandeis student for attending.