American university withdraws honour for Dutch Islam critic

Ayann Hirsi Ali

America’s Brandeis University in Boston has withdrawn plans to grant an honorary degree to Dutch Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali following protests from Muslim students.

The university planned to honour Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian, for her work supporting Muslim women.

However 85 of the university’s 350 members of staff signed a letter asking for Hirsi Ali to be taken off the honorary degree list and thousands of people signed a student led petition, news agency AP says.

The university said in a statement on Tuesday evening that Hirsi Ali would no longer receive the honorary degree, which it had planned to award her at the May 18 commencement.

“She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world,” the statement said.

“That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.”

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali is from Somalia, but came to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage.  She now lives in the U.S.