Author arrives today amid tight security
Calls Islamic culture 'backward'
Under 24-hour guard since 2004
A VISIT to Sydney by a controversial Somali writer who calls the prophet Mohammed a pedophile and says Islam is inferior to Western culture has outraged Muslims, who accuse her of inciting hatred.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali will arrive in Sydney today amid tight security normally reserved for foreign dignitaries or royalty.
Her writings and talks focus on what she calls the backwardness of Islamic culture and the persecution of Muslim women.
The Somali-born Muslim - who fled to The Netherlands, became a Dutch citizen and renounced her religion - has been under 24-hour guard since the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh in November 2004 by a Muslim extremist in Amsterdam.
Van Gogh's film Submission, which examined the oppression of Muslim women, was written by Hirsi Ali. His killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, left a five-page death threat addressed to her, pinned to the filmmaker's chest.
However, University of Technology Sydney Islamic law lecturer Jamila Hussain said Hirsi Ali's ideas were extreme and stigmatised Muslims.
"I think she'd be better staying where she came from," Ms Hussain said. "I've read enough of her thoughts. It's a narrow and radical opinion, and I don't agree with it. She's obviously had some dreadful experiences, but they're not typical."
In her writings, Hirsi Ali describes being circumcised as a young girl and how she escaped an arranged marriage.
Nada Roude, of the NSW Islamic Council, said Hirsi Ali's comments on the prophet Mohammed were a "no-go zone".
"They (prophets) are not just like you and me, they have special status - you're supposed to show respect," Ms Roude said.
"There have to be boundaries in how far you go in respecting other's beliefs. The reaction from the community is likely to be quite worrying."
Hirsi Ali has written that under Dutch law, Mohammed's marriage to six-year-old A'ishah (whose age is disputed by Muslim scholars) and his subsequent consummation of the marriage when she was nine would make him a pedophile.
Ms Roude said there seemed to be a double standard about who was allowed to visit Australia, particularly as Hirsi Ali's visit appeared to have the potential to incite hatred.
"Muslims are not treated the same," she said. "There are a set of rules for one community and another for the rest of the community. Anyone who causes harm to our society because they have the right to express their opinion is not welcome."
Hirsi Ali's latest book, her autobiography Infidel, has been a bestseller. She now lives in the US after losing a parliamentary seat in The Netherlands when it was discovered she had lied on her application for asylum.
She has two public functions at the Sydney Writers Festival: a discussion on Saturday and the festival's closing address on Sunday. Both are sell-outs.
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