NORWAY -- Ayaan Hirsi Ali believes that Europeans have avoided the Islam debate for a long time. Now the Norwegian Integration Minister, Sylvi Listhaug, along with her Danish colleague, Inger Støjberg, have arranged for a conference for equality and freedom of speech, together with Ali.
In a back room at the Grand Hotel in Oslo, three ladies sit, two Scandinavian ministers and a very vocal critic of Islam. It shows at the same time very clearly how the political wind in Norway and Denmark currently blows, and the rest of Europe for that matter, because it would almost be impossible for a politician to meet with such a prominent critic of Islam just a few years ago and still hope to have a political career. Now they shamelessly sit in the same room, even smiling.
- All three of us fight for freedom of expression, but also women's rights. And you have to be honest to say that oppression of women takes place in connection with Islam. That are some of the things we have discussed today, says the Danish immigration minister Inger Støjberg to VG.
The three will now initiate a major conference in 2017 to discuss gender equality and freedom of speech.
Støjberg argues that the immigration we now see may change Europe, Scandinavia and Denmark forever, unless the fight is taken.
- We have a long tradition that we live in countries with full freedom of expression, where you can say what you want but also draw whatever you want. And so it must be. But there is no doubt that rights are put under pressure, and so is free speech, says the Danish immigration minister.
Because of the massive threats she is living under, Ayaan Hirsi Ali will not say where in Norway she has been and how long.
- I have men with guns around me, and it shows how serious it is. I have not been without security since October 2002. It is long, and says little about freedom of speech and the threat from radical Islam, says Ali to VG.
Al-Qaeda has put the controversial writer and ex-politician on a top 10 death list. On the list was also Stéphane Charbonnier, the Charlie Hebdo editor who was killed during the terrorist attack in Paris.
Ali made the list because of her role as an Islam critic and participation in the film "Submission," which dealt with the oppression of women in Islam. In her newest book she says that Islam is not a religion of peace, and in Norway, Ali's concept of "Mekka-" and "Medina-Muslims" among other things, has been debated over the last book of Hege Storhaug, who also have referred to Ali as a role model.
- I think that Europeans have avoided the Islam debate for a very long time, while things have just gotten worse and worse, says Ali.
- Institutions that are trying to brainwash young people to accept Sharia as the only law, have flourished. And the number who have been brainwashed in Europe has become so large that it becomes difficult to cope with, know who they are and where they are. That's because the theme of Islam have been avoided. To avoid a problem, but it just gets bigger, she said.
Ali fled a forced marriage in Somalia to the Netherlands in the 90s. Since then she has become a feminist and opponent of female genital mutilation. Ali says that she met Sylvi Listhaug in the summer, and the two became friends. Since then they have kept in touch over telephone, Skype and email.
- That girls are growing up in Norway today, without being allowed to marry whoever they want, get an education or control their own lives, is something I have been concerned with all years. Therefore Ayaan has been a great role model for me, an incredibly tough lady who has stood up and been a symbol for many women and girls who have been in this situation, says Listhaug.
Ali said she would gladly have joined the Islamic State when she was 15 years old.
- It was because in the living room, at the Koranic school and the school I heard the same message: that the Shari'a is the only law, that all other laws are manmade and sin, that infidels must convert or be killed, and that women must cover themselves from head to toe. I remember the brainwashing clearly, says Ali.
- My mom in a manner arranged for this, because she let this man in to brainwash us. She thought we would be better Muslims. And I think this is something Europe must address right away, she says.
- Do you think you would have more credibility in the debate if you had still been a Muslim?
- No, because I have friends who are Muslims who want to change Islam from the inside and they face the same problems that I have. They are called infidels and being threatened, says Ali.
- Ayaan is one of the strong voices in the debate, both on freedom of expression and equality. She is an icon for the discussion of freedom rights, says Støjberg.
Therefore, the three will now arrange a conference for equality and freedom of speech, and Støjberg says an Islam-debate is necessary.
- I often ask myself where the traditional feminists have gone. They discuss equal pay, career ladders, maternity - all the traditional things - but I find that they fail the Muslim women who live in Norway and Denmark. That by not discussing the things that really matters, honor-related violence, social control - that a young girl must be followed outside, that young girls constantly have to explain where they are, and not get to choose their own boyfriend. We take our freedom for granted, but we must just acknowledge that in the Nordic countries there are women who do not live in complete freedom, says Støjberg to VG.
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