Ayaan Hirsi Ali Compares Burqa To 'Very Big Swastika'

The women took to Facebook on Monday after Ms Hirsi Ali cancelled her planned speaking tour of Australia just hours before she was due to arrive, citing concerns about security and the organisation of her trip.

Ms Hirsi Ali rose to worldwide attention in 2004 as the writer of a controversial film on violence against Muslim women, Submission, after her collaborator, filmmaker Theo van Gogh, was murdered by a radical Islamist. Wire service Australian Associated Press scored an interview for print, she spoke with Alan Jones this morning (he is a great supporter), and she has spoken to Channel Seven and Triple J's Hack program.

Persons of Interest, a news and media page dedicated to issues of social justice, released a campaign video shortly before Ali's announcement, titled, "Ayaan Hirsi Ali: You don't speak for us".

About 2000 tickets of Ali's speaking events were sold in Australia, but the organiser's said it will process refunds within 7 to 21 days.

Meanwhile, at least 400 people had signed an online petition opposing Ali's visit to Australia and New Zealand. The organization hosting her - Think Inc - has been subject to harassment over her scheduled appearance for months.

Born to a Muslim family in Somalia, the 47-year-old Hirsi has been a vocal critic of Islam after renouncing her religion.

The Somali-born former Dutch MP has been under tight security protection since a colleague who produced her film about violence against women in some Muslim cultures was murdered in 2004 with a letter pinned to his body threatening to kill Hirsi Ali, too.

Ms Hirsi Ali told Jones - who has previously been found guilty of vilifying Lebanese Muslims - that the risk of radialisation in Western countries amounted to who could "shape the hearts and minds" of young people. Her harrowing story, which included that she was a victim of female genital mutilation, made her asylum application successful.

She says she broke definitively with Islam following the September 11 attacks in the United States and has since become a fierce defender of secularism and Muslim women's rights.

  • Eleanor Harrison