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Ayaan Hirsi Ali Is Right about Islam and Sexual Violence
The social integrity of ethnic and religious minorities is at stake—as is the fabric of liberal societies.
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This article was deemed too heretical for mainstream and even parts of alternate media in 2021. It’s a review of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s latest book Prey, which argues the existence of a direct link between increased Islamic migration and surging sexual violence in Europe.
This article was pitched to several publications and rejected (unsurprisingly) before being accepted by a prominent conservative newspaper. Though the editor initially approved its publication, he later backtracked by asserting that Ayaan’s “generalizations around Muslim men and why they might be predisposed to rape” were “deeply problematic” and “may promote Islamophobia and racism.”
But Ayaan’s arguments are rooted in both empirical data and compelling anecdotal evidence. As an immigrant from India myself (though of Sikh background, not Muslim), I have suffered from demoralizing racism and xenophobia in my childhood. I am therefore not blind to the harm that can result from the perpetuation of negative ethnic stereotypes of minorities. However, this does not mean I cannot or should not talk honestly about cultural pathologies within my own community and other minority communities. The reputation of South Asian and Middle Eastern men (often seen as the same) is on the line when members of our community commit any kind of transgression. For this reason, acknowledging the reality of culture and behavior—as Ayaan does in her book—shouldn’t be considered taboo in deference to political correctness.
That it is at all controversial for a black, ex-Muslim female intellectual to publish a book on cultural pathology within the migrant Muslim community is a testament to the censoriousness of our time.
Review: Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Prey’
Few have the courage and audacity of Ayaan Hirsi Ali—who has consistently challenged both the extremely conservative cultural norms in unreformed Islamic societies and the radical leftism dominating the West today. Her background as a Somali refugee growing up in a Muslim household and later beating the odds and fleeing to the Netherlands, and then to the U.S., in search of autonomy and freedom provides her with the insight, depth, and personal experience to explore these complex issues with great nuance.
Hirsi Ali’s new book Prey is yet another brave milestone in her perseverant and storied career, that details the alarming rise in sexual violence across Europe in the wake of mass migration from Africa and the Middle East.
Close to three million people have arrived illegally in Europe over the past decade, two million of whom entered in 2015 alone. Countries that experienced significant immigration from these migrants saw an increase in crimes of sexual violence. Hirsi Ali reports that rapes in France surged by 31 percent between 2016 and 2018; in Sweden, the number of reported sex offenses rose by 12 percent in 2016.
In a New York Times book review, progressive lawyer Jill Filipovic critiqued the book, claiming that “[Ayaan] finds stories of individual Muslim immigrants who commit heinous crimes…and [suggests] those stories are broadly representative…”
Though crime data by ethnicity, religion, and migration status are quite limited in European countries (something that ought to be reformed), accusations of statistical exaggeration are refuted by Ayaan’s correct identification of a stunning pattern emerging in Europe: migrant men from Muslim-majority countries are committing an exceedingly disproportionate number of sexual offenses.
In Germany, for example, asylum seekers were 12 percent of suspects in all sex crimes, despite comprising only one to two per cent of the total population. Asylum-seekers comprised less than one per cent of the Austrian population in 2017, yet they were suspects in 11 percent of all reported sexual harassment and rape cases. Hirsi Ali finds startlingly similar trends in Austria, France, Denmark, and other countries.
What’s causing the disproportionate rates of sexual violence among male Muslim migrants? The answer is not entirely straightforward, as criminal behavior is shaped by a variety of factors that include cultural norms, economic conditions, familial values, psychological predispositions, and social environment.
One explanation is simply demographic. Since 2009, migrants entering Europe at a rapid rate have been disproportionately young, unmarried men (two-thirds of asylum seekers have been men)—a factor that studies show have socially destabilizing effects, especially in relation to the female population. A 2018 study published in the journal PLoS One that compared six Asian countries found that men were “significantly more likely to report ever having raped a woman” when men outnumbered women.
Social conditioning is another piece of the puzzle. Hirsi Ali explains that some young men who are accustomed to seeing women covered from head to toe in society may experience overwhelming sexual temptation when suddenly surrounded by women wearing jeans, tank tops, and loose clothing in Europe for the first time. According to Swedish psychologist Mia Jorgensen, who Hirsi Ali cites in her book, being raised in cultures where sex is taboo is a critical “risk factor” for sexual offenders. Moreover, many of the Muslim-majority countries that migrants have fled from are polygamous societies wherein men can marry multiple women. As a 2019 Pew Research report found, “most of the countries that allow polygamy are majority-Muslim.”
Polygamy commodifies and culturally objectifies women—who become a scarce resource exclusively available to a select few affluent and powerful men—thus producing violent conflict and social disarray, especially among the dense pool of unmarried men. As one study from University of British Columbia shows, polygamy causes “greater levels of crime, violence, poverty and gender inequality” in societies where it is normalized.
However, as Hirsi Ali compellingly outlines, the role of Islamic culture is central to the disproportionate rate of sexual violence among migrant men. She devotes a whole chapter to explaining the “modesty doctrine,” which requires women in Islamic societies to abide by a strict dress code—being covered from head to toe—and not freely move in public without male guardianship. Any violation of these norms effectively renders such “immodest” women as “adulterous sinners” who can be hunted down and sexually abused because there is no one to protect them, or they are thought to be purposefully engaging in seductive behavior (the question of theology is separate).
Unfortunately, out of fear of igniting racism and Islamophobia, this entire conversation has been derailed and stigmatized. Hirsi Ali described this unfortunate reality in her recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience:
The fact that Black men, brown men, men of colour are oppressing and raping women and groping them and subjecting them to humiliation doesn’t fit the matrix of those who are “oppressors” and those who are “victims” … the immigrant, the asylum seeker, the refugee—he is supposed to be the “victim.”
In the aforementioned New York Times book review, Jill Filipovic astonishingly remarks that “Hirsi Ali seems to latch onto the trope of men of color threatening virtuous white women.” She then egregiously likens Hirsi Ali’s rhetoric to “European colonists [who] saw...African and Arab men as sexually aggressive and uncontrolled, and white women their desired victims.”
It is true that discussing the disproportionate crime rates among migrant men may reinforce stereotypes about Muslim refugees and immigrants at large in the public eye. We have seen these stereotypes manifest in horrific fashion in recent history. After 9/11, for example, there was a surge in Islamophobic hate crimes across the United States. The problem was so out-of-hand that several Sikh-Americans were mistakenly killed.
However, the dangers of letting this problem go unaddressed is far greater than any possible dangers associated with honestly and compassionately assessing this issue—as Hirsi Ali does. If this problem isn’t rationally discussed and rectified over time—due to constraints of political correctness—it will only create and reinforce stereotypes of Muslim sexual violence and disrespect for women.
Hirsi Ali describes women fearing being groped by ethnic men in swimming pools and gay couples in Brussels afraid to walk hand-in-hand due to harassment from Muslims. The social integrity of ethnic and religious minorities is at stake here—as is the fabric of liberal societies.
Neglecting this problem is no solution.
About the Author:
Rav Arora is a 21-year-old independent journalist based in Vancouver, Canada. His work has been widely read by the likes of Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, Megyn Kelly, and others. Please consider becoming a paid subscriber to his Substack to fuel in-depth investigations into vaccine injuries, government mandates, and mental illness.