As Americans worked around the clock to evacuate soldiers, diplomats, and allies earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of Afghans rushed to flee their war-torn country. Some drove to the nearest land borders in Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran. The lucky ones found refuge in a handful of Western countries, while other countries strengthened border security measures to prevent any immigration whatsoever.
It is at this inauspicious moment that Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s latest book, “Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights,” is remarkably prescient. Ali is an immigrant success story. Surviving the suffocating pieties of Islamic fundamentalism across the Middle East and Africa, Ali sought sanctuary in the Netherlands.
Unfortunately, Europe was not the safe harbour she envisioned. Her collaboration with filmmaker Theo van Gogh to document the mistreatment of Islamic women led to the documentarian’s assassination at the hands of a radicalized Dutch Moroccan Muslim. Ali fled to America, renounced her Islamic faith, and went into hiding with around-the-clock bodyguards.
These distressing firsthand experiences frame Ali’s discussion of Islam throughout her book. “As an immigrant and former asylum seeker of Somali origin, I am for immigration. I have no objection to people packing up their possessions and leaving their homes to try to improve their circumstances. I completely understand why they would wish to do so because I did it myself,” Ali acknowledges.
However, “My concern is with the attitudes some bring with them, with the behaviors that these attitudes generate in a minority of migrants, and with the seeming inability of Western countries to understand how to cope with the resulting problems.”
Unlike the usual suspects who dismiss the latest conservative “white-replacement fearmongering” about Afghani refugees, “Prey” is an earnest and thoughtful investigation of the challenges multiculturalism poses to sexual equality. Ali argues that European women’s rights have been eroded in recent decades largely due to Muslim migration and the failures of cultural assimilation.
The statistics she marshals are staggering. Although predominantly Muslim asylum seekers make up less than 1 percent of Austrians, in 2017 they represented 11 percent of the accused in all reported rapes and sexual harassment cases.
Similar arithmetic is found in Denmark, where “non-Western” immigrants and their descendants accounted for roughly 40 percent of rapes and 25-33 percent of groping convictions despite comprising approximately 10 percent of the population. Swedish public television aired a documentary on sex crimes based on court rulings from 2012-2017 finding 58% of perpetrators were foreign-born.
Sprinkled throughout the book are dozens of harrowing accounts. Youth offenders raping female concertgoers and receiving community service; Swedish pamphlets notifying migrants about “Information for you who are married to a child” (yes, you read that right); German brochures instructing swimming pool patrons not to grope women and girls.
Surrendering Women’s Rights to Wokeness
Identity politics and its fetishization of multiculturalism has curtailed frank discussions about the cultural baggage young Muslim men as a group carry with them. Look no further than Jill Filipovic’s hatchet job review of “Prey.” Highlighting the mundane fact that young Muslim males frequently hold views antithetical to Western feminism is, in Filipovic’s mind, “bigotry.”
The brunt of Ali’s thesis “latches onto the trope of men of color threatening virtuous white women,” Filipovic contends, seemingly unaware of the book’s section explicitly examining “migrant-on-migrant” victimization. Moreover, where would such a robust analysis be without a parting shot comparing Ali to Hitler?
The rift separating Ali and Filipovic exemplifies the broader intellectual divide plaguing Westerners these days. While both condemned Joe Biden’s “betrayal” of Afghanistan, mourning the impending brutalization of women under Taliban rule, their views on migration and assimilation could not be farther apart. Filipovic’s review is a microcosm of how important issues raised in “Prey” are routinely, and disingenuously, dismissed.
It is these very progressive voices, Ali argues, that have surrendered women’s rights to the golden calf of wokeness. Ali terms this tension “The Feminist Predicament,” lamenting how “the concepts of universal women’s rights yielded ground to the new ideals of multiculturalism and intersectionality.”
The blame lies squarely on “Western feminists” who argue “that imposing their values on the Muslim world was a form of neocolonialism.” Consequently, European institutions — police, media, judges, academia — have buried and obscured damning stories about sexual assault in the name of multiculturalism.
Look no further than the Rochdale child sex trafficking gang outside Manchester. From 1997 until 2013, the group exploited “at least 1,400 children,” an independent inquiry revealed afterward. Breaking up the ring led to the arrests of nine men: eight Pakistani and one Afghan.
Unfortunately, police downplayed and ignored earlier accusations of abuse from victims because of their discomfort over allegations of racism. As the post-op investigation noted:
By far the majority of perpetrators were described as ‘Asian’ by victims, yet throughout the entire period, councillors did not engage directly with the Pakistani-heritage community to discuss how best they could jointly address the issue. Some councillors seemed to think it was a one-off problem, which they hoped would go away. Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.
Labour Member of Parliament Ann Cryer had raised the alarm a decade earlier following direct testimonials from mothers of abused children. However, when Cryer sought to spotlight the issue, she was ostracized from Labour and called a racist.
Likewise, when reports throughout Germany emerged on New Year’s Eve 2015 that thousands of women had been sexually assaulted in public, Ali shows how authorities equivocated. Officials and journalists downplayed the disproportionate role of young migrant men despite accounts suggesting otherwise. The majority of those indicted following the episode were Algerian, Moroccan, and Iraqi. Similar coverups occurred in Sweden.
Where Is Me Too Now?
Growing social awareness in the wake of Me Too should have clarified the importance of confronting sexism and sexual assault publicly and proactively. That’s what woke activists mean by “silence is violence.” However, cowed by these very activists, authorities have turned a blind eye to the escalating sexist violence.
European women are now claustrophobically painted into a corner. Many, as Ali documents throughout the book, are fearful of being “called a racist” despite their leftist and antiracist credentials. Forced to fend for themselves, women are beginning to fill the void left in the absence of political leadership. German entrepreneur Sandra Seilz created rape-proof underwear because she narrowly survived a gang rape while jogging.
Fears of physical violence have transformed daily life for European women. Ali cites studies from the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that find European women are increasingly immobile compared to men. Like Seilz, many have been compelled to recognize “no-go zones” or to innovate, developing “harassment map apps” alerting female tourists against visiting specific locales.
This is the simple reality “Prey” seeks to voice. Women, not men, will suffer from the “see no sexism, hear no sexism” farce of identity politics; that cancel culture and stifling speech will endanger women not men; that hard-fought feminist victories can be undone.
Today, many feminists are fearful of speaking up and being branded a racist, xenophobe, or Islamophobe. Thankfully, Aayan Hirsi Ali is willing to.