Ayaan Hirsi Ali on overcoming ‘Muslim Rage’


When Ayaan Hirsi Ali was 19, she “piously, even gleefully” participated in a rally in Kenya to burn Salman Rushdie’s book—despite having never read it.

Ali, whose cover story was published today in Newsweek, uses her own personal experiences of what she calls “Muslim Rage” and unquestioning fanaticism as a lens to view the protests in the Middle East.

Her own blind rage is not unique, too: The brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, had not seen the internet video that sparked many of these protests, despite condemning and calling his supporters to act out against it, she said.

“I was taught to be loyal and fanatically loyal to the Qaran and the Prophet Mohammed,” Ali exclusively told The Last Word host Lawrence O’Donnell. “I understood one thing and that was anyone offended or said anything insulting about the Prophet Mohammed should die. I did that unthinkingly and I think the huge mobs we’re seeing are doing that unthinkingly but that does not excuse the individual responsibilities once they leave the company of the crowd.”

That responsibility is to value human life above religious outrage, Ali said. “The vast majority of Muslims, even though they may condemn violence, they may condemn murder, they haven’t found a way to bring themselves to understand that they may be offended but human life is more valuable than the offense taking in the name of human icons,” she added.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on overcoming 'Muslim Rage'