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Brandeis University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1949 | Waltham, MA

Zachary Reid


University rescinds decision to honor Hirsi Ali

After a torrent of public outrage from the greater Brandeis community, University administration has rescinded the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a controversial political and women's rights activist, due to statements that she has made publically that criticize Islam. A press release from the administration, published by BrandeisNOW on the evening of Tuesday, April 8, said that while Hirsi Ali "is a compelling public figure and advocate for women's rights ... we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values." The press release added that the University "regret[s]" that it was "not aware of these statements earlier." The press release stated in conclusion that Hirsi Ali is "welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues," but that the commencement ceremony was not the appropriate forum for said discussion. The announcement of the rescindment came after both faculty and student community members voiced outrage over Hirsi Ali receiving an honorary degree.

Degree recipient triggers outcry

Numerous members of the University community have expressed outrage at the selection of Ayaan Hirsi Ali as an honorary degree recipient for its 63rd annual commencement ceremony, which was announced last Monday along with the names of the other recipients and the individual who will deliver the commencement address. Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born women's rights activist who has campaigned against female genital mutilation but is also well known for her critical view of Islam; she has at various times called Islam a "backwards religion" and a "destructive, nihilistic cult of death" that legitimizes murder.

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