Thursday, April 29, 2010

Freedom of speech prize for Dutch Islam critic

Former Dutch MP and Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been awarded the Freedom of Expression prize by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The jury said that Somali/Kenyan-born Ms Hirsi Ali deserved the prize because of "her unrelenting conviction that one's views are worth fighting for".

Ms Hirsi Ali now lives in the United States where she works for the rightwing American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. She is known for her fierce criticism of conservative Islam and of the oppression of women by conservative Muslims. Together with Dutch director Theo van Gogh she made a short movie entitled Submission, which criticised the position of women in Islam. Mr Van Gogh was later killed by a radical Muslim.


Jyllands-Posten is the paper which in 2005 published a gallery of Mohammed cartoons by several artists which caused outrage in Muslim countries because the face of the prophet was visible and because the drawings associated Islam with terrorism. The newspaper instituted the prize after the protests in the Islamic world.

The creator of one of the cartoons, Kurt Westergaard, escaped unhurt earlier this year after an attempt on his life by a knife-wielding attacker.

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