Controversial Islamic critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali has hit back at a group of Australian Muslim women who accused her of being a “star” of Islamophobia and stirring up hatred.
The women took to Facebook on Monday when Ms Hirsi Ali was due to arrive in Australia for a speaking tour but cancelled at the last minute citing concerns about security and the organisation of her trip.
In their video the six woman said Ms Hirsi Ali – who was raised a Muslim but renounced her religion as an adult and became a fierce critic of radical Islamists and sharia law – was a “star of the global Islamophobia industry” and did not speak for them.
They criticised her for past descriptions of Muslim women as docile and irrational, accused her of using the language of white supremacists and profiting from “an industry that exists to dehumanise Muslim women”.
But Ms Hirsi Ali says the women are “carrying water” for radical Islamic organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and Boko Haram because they have done little to defend women with few rights under Islamic law.
“I just want to point my finger at all the places in the world today where Islamic law is applied and how women are treated and I want to say to these women, ‘shame on you’,” Ms Hirsi Ali told AAP on Tuesday.
“Shame on you for carrying water for the Islamists, shame on you for trying to shut people up who are trying to raise awareness about sharia law.”
Comment was being sought from a representative for the women, who posted their video message on a Facebook page titled Persons of Interest.
Ms Hirsi Ali rejected their claim that she was trying to be a spokeswoman for all Muslim women, saying she was simply “speaking up” against how sharia law degraded women by allowing beatings, stoning, slavery and female genital mutilation.
She declined to go into the reasons behind her decision to cancel her trip to Australia, where she was due address crowds in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne this week before heading to New Zealand.
The US-based, Somali-born activist who was subject to female genital mutilation as a child and became an MP in the Netherlands after seeking political asylum, has for years lived with tight security as a result of her stance on radical Islamists.
She had hoped during her visit to Australia to highlight the need for Western countries to educate themselves about dawa, or how radical Islamists spread their ideology.
Ms Hirsi Ali says while the West should continue its military battles against terrorists, it needed to focus on the spread of Islamic ideology through schools, mosques and non-government organisations that on the surface appear non-violent but ultimately act as a “conveyor belt” for violence.
She argues such organisations can flourish in Western countries by exploiting laws safeguarding freedom of religion, expression and association.
“I don’t believe individuals are born wanting to join the jihad. It’s a process, a long process,” Ms Hirsi Ali said.
“Jihad does not take place without the Dawa.”