by UnHerd
Thursday, 11
February 2021
Video
16:23

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Covid has changed the immigration debate

The political activist and feminist discusses her new book, Prey
by UnHerd


It is hard to think of a more sensitive topic than the connection between sexual violence against women and the surge in immigration from Muslim countries into Europe since 2015. But then, it is hard to think of a more credible person to address it than Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who herself began life in Somalia and ended up claiming asylum in the Netherlands to escape a forced marriage.

In this fascinating interview, Ayaan discusses how the pandemic will effect the West’s view of immigration:

There’s a sense that when it comes to immigration, we were told, well, we can’t do this, because it’s going to violate our civil rights. We are liberal societies. And as liberal societies, there are things we can’t do you know, deportations, closing borders, this, that and the other. And now with COVID, what are we doing? We’re closing borders, we’re constraining our civil liberties. We’re having lockdown after lockdown. And so I think even after COVID has passed (us if it’s ever passed us), I think voters are going to think wait a second, you subjected us to all of these things. So you can’t make those arguments afterwards.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, LockdownTV

On how the centre-Right and centre-Left’s unwillingness to discuss immigration has galvanised extremist movements:

I make it very clear in my book that the anti Islam sentiment in society is very strong and it’s getting stronger because these extreme right wing parties, populist parties are cropping up all over Europe and getting so many voters. But the reason that’s happening is because they’re the only ones willing to tackle these issues. And then you also have the Islamist movements. These are the ones luring young men and persuading them to become extremists. And when you take it to the very extreme, persuading them to become actual terrorists, and then you have the fashion trolls, and agencies who are trying to destabilise society. So if you want to empower these extreme fringes, the thing to do is to be silent, or place a taboo on these controversial issues. And I was motivated to say, well, we the establishment, we people in the centre, centre, left centre, right, we should be talking about these issues.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, LockdownTV

On what she found in her research:

What is going on is that we are having a large surge of young men coming from Muslim majority countries where they’re not used to treating women as equals. And we have seen an increase in sexual violence and that sexual violence varies from very relatively mild verbal, from the cat calls, obscene invitations to touching and groping and harassing — all of it unwanted — to rapes and gang rapes. And in extreme situations, things that lead to homicide. And these incidents that were very, very rare in many of these European countries have now become, in some countries, in some neighbourhoods, commonplace to the point where you are going to find neighbourhoods in many European countries that have taken these immigrants, women free.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, LockdownTV

On David Cameron’s response to the refugee crisis:

Cameron was the most responsive, I thought of the European leaders at the time. He was trying to say, we have to be compassionate and open and help others out; but at the time, he was also responsive in doing what he was elected to do, which is be the leader of the British people… And I’m not saying that, you know, I’m not judging Angela Merkel, as a bad woman was a bad person was a thoughtless person. I’m just saying what the different European leaders have failed to do is to work together. And ultimately, then you get such phenomena as Brexit. A nation state saying, we can’t work together, and if we can’t work together, then we’re going to work alone.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, LockdownTV

On Black Lives Matter:

If Black Lives Matter really wanted to help black people in America, they would fight for education, like charter schools, but the kind of school systems that actually lift people out of poverty. That’s not what they’re fighting for. They would fight for the nuclear family — they’re actually stating that they’re against the nuclear family. What they’re saying is that they want a redistribution of resources, where you take away from the rich and give to the poor, but then that they are in charge of it, and all sorts of other crazy stuff. That in no way addresses the situation of poor black people. Or they talk about police violence against black people, but they don’t talk about black and black violence. And a lot of black mothers in black neighbourhoods, for instance, in Chicago, New York, they’re saying, we don’t want to give up the police, we don’t want to refund the police. It’s the police that are fighting for us. So you dig deep into what some of these organisations are saying it’s fairly, they have very selfish, very narrow interests.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, LockdownTV

On #MeToo:

I think the #MeToo movement started out with something very strong, very powerful, very good, that I approve of as a woman. Which is the proposition that women should be safe in the workplace. And I still support that. And I hoped very much that it would become universal. But it stopped with what I would say is the preoccupation of middle class women. Once we had to then address misconduct by immigrant men, men of colour in large numbers, it sort of came to a screeching halt. And women of low income — for instance, the victims of the grooming gangs in the United Kingdom, or the women that I’m discussing, who are bearing the burden of the unintended consequences of immigration in working class neighbourhoods. #MeToo hasn’t said a word about them or done anything for them. And that’s unfortunate.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, LockdownTV

On the cynicism of virtue signalling:

I think first of all, you dig down into what the person or group or company or political party that is virtue signalling is saying, and what is it that their true interest is. And there you will find a number of contradictions and then I think you have to confront them with what do you want, really? When you talk to Ben and Jerry’s: do you want to make a profit? Or do you want to stand with Black Lives Matter? They are making a profit. And what have they done for blacks and black people? Once you start asking these questions, once you write a book like this and you say so you’ve been virtue signalling about women’s rights all this time to feminists, you want to shatter the glass ceiling and sitting board members and become CEOs and so on. But here’s what’s happening to women on the streets, victims of grooming gangs, victims of this type of thing — what have you said and done about that? And then you get the glaring absence of morality and virtue. And I don’t know where that leaves them.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, LockdownTV

Many thanks to Ayaan for such an stimulating discussion.

Join the discussion


  • Among her many insights perhaps the most important is this: that speed of migration prevents assimilation; it leads directly to ghettoes and thereafter to division – which the ongoing inflow can only inflame. As for Mr Sayers – well done for this interview; but once again I must oppose his understanding of “liberalism”. It is NOT about open borders, for Liberalism established the notion of the nation state in the first place. Think of Mazzini and his many admirers among the Liberal luminaries of the nineteenth century.

  • Because she is an atheist ex-Muslim who criticises Islam. The Left don’t like anyone criticising Islam, they consider it ‘Islamophobic’ because it is a religion of ‘brown people’ in their eyes (they can’t tell the difference between race and religion) and therefore any criticism is a white supremacist narrative.

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