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Attacks on Somali feminist won't end jihadist violence

The ad hominem attacks and omissions in Alison Kysia and Hoarya Ziad's commentary on feminist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali have given The Sun's readers a distorted view of the threat of Islamic extremism as well as of one of its foremost opponents ("Baltimore speaker promotes fear of Islam," Jan. 25).

The authors charge Ms. Ali is a "pundit behind the industry of fear" but completely omit her advocacy for women's rights and democracy.

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Ms. Ali was born under a dictatorship in Somalia and later was subjected to female genital mutilation and a forced marriage. Eventually she fled the Islamic fundamentalist culture in which she had been raised for the Netherlands, where she worked in factories and as a maid while studying at university before being elected to the Dutch parliament.

According to Harvard University, where she serves as a fellow, Ms. Ali has "defended the rights of Muslim women" and "campaigned to raise awareness of violence against women, including honor killings and female genital mutilation."

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She came to international prominence when Theo van Gogh, the director of a film she was working on about the oppression of women under Islam, was assassinated by an Islamic extremist who left a death threat for Ms. Ali pinned to the victim's chest. She has had to live under guard in the Netherlands and in the U.S. ever since.

Yet Ms. Kysia and Ms. Ziad remain silent about this reality. Instead, the authors engage in character assassination. They falsely claim, for example, that Ms. Ali "has called for war against Muslims worldwide" and that she "urged our country to strip American Muslims of their civil rights" — without offering a shred of evidence to support those charges.

Ms. Kysia and Ms. Ziad dismiss the threat of Islamic terrorism as "fear mongering," even though FBI Director James Comey has stated that the bureau currently has open investigations of suspected Islamic terrorists in all 50 states, including some 900 Islamic State activists or sympathizers.

One wishes success to the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies in their effort to counter religious bigotry and jihadist violence. But rhetorically shooting the messenger, as Ms. Kysia and Ms. Ziad attempt to do to Ms. Ali, is a poor way to accomplish that.

Sean Durns, Silver Spring

The writer is a media assistant in the Washington office of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

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