Nixed Honorary Degree Recipient Condemns Brandeis

April 10, 2014

While Brandeis University was facing criticism for planning to award an honorary doctorate to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, she remained largely silent and she didn't immediately respond when the university announced Tuesday that it was abandoning plans to award the degree, amid concerns about her public criticism of Islam. On Wednesday, however, she released a statement denouncing Brandeis and, in particular, its assertion that it was unaware of some of her past statements when it decided to honor her. "[M]y critics have long specialized in selective quotation – lines from interviews taken out of context – designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree," Ali said. "What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The 'spirit of free expression' referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced."

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