A leading world critic of Muslim extremism says New Zealand should establish "assimilation centres" for migrants and refugees from Muslim countries.

Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Netherlands MP for the right-wing People's Party, has been under police protection since she made a film in 2004 about violence against women in some Muslim cultures.

The film's producer Theo van Gogh was murdered four months after the film's release and a letter pinned to his body with a knife threatened to kill Hirsi Ali too.

Hirsi Ali will speak at an event organised by Sydney-based promoters ThinkInc at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna on April 9.


She told Andrew Dickens on NewstalkZB today that she could "understand the reasoning" of President Donald Trump's executive order banning people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States.

"Before you get people in from Muslim countries, whether through the [refugee] resettlement process or through some other immigration process, you must have assimilation programmes in place," she said.

"A small country like Israel got people from Ethiopia to come who are totally different in culture, outlook and everything, they just share this idea that they are all Jewish, and they have assimilation centres where they put a lot of money and effort into making them fellow citizens.

"If free societies don't do that, if they don't have those assimilation policies in place, then they shouldn't bring in people because they are only asking for instability."

Hirsi Ali, 47, suffered female genital mutilation as a child and was granted asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, saying she was fleeing from an arranged marriage.

She was elected to the Dutch Parliament in 2003 but resigned in 2006 after revelations that she had given false information when she applied for asylum.

Since 2006 she has lived in the United States, where she runs an organisation named after herself, the AHA Foundation, campaigning against female genital mutilation, forced marriage and honour-based violence against women. She is married to Scottish historian Niall Ferguson.

Her early books called on all Muslims to renounce their faith and become Christian or atheist, but her latest book, Heretic (2015), accepts that the world's 1.6 billion Muslims are unlikely to give up their faith, and instead proposed five key reforms including abolishing Sharia law and replacing jihad (holy war) with a call for peace.


"If you take these five things out, then Islam can transform itself from a religion of war, dominance and subjugation to a religion of peace," she told Dickens.

Dr Zain Ali of Auckland University's Islamic Studies Research Unit said this change in her views made Hirsi Ali "a very fascinating figure".

"Think of Islam as this broad spectrum," he said. "There is a lot of intellectual rethinking about what the tradition means and how it fits in with our life today."

He said most NZ Muslims were either NZ-born (26 per cent) or came from the Indian subcontinent (27 per cent) or Fiji and other Pacific islands (21 per cent), so they were already used to living in non-Muslim-majority countries and did not need "assimilation centres".

Only 23 per cent of New Zealand's 46,000 Muslims in the 2013 census came from the Middle East or Africa.

But he suggested that schools should teach all students about "civics" including NZ history, culture and values.

5 points to reform Islam

by Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her book



1. Accept that the Koran was written by "human hands", not God.

2. Give priority to this life, not life after death.

3. Abolish Sharia law, which dictates harsh punishments for crimes such as drinking alcohol and renouncing the Muslim faith.

4. Stop enforcing Islamic principles by means such as mob violence.

5. Replace jihad, or holy war, with a call for peace.