Last month, the MIT Center for International Studies hosted a talk by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Raised a Muslim, she witnessed abuse of women in Muslim communities. She renounced her religion and became an activist for women’s rights. Her criticisms of Islam led to death threats, and her courage was recognized by several awards. Her latest book, Heretic, calls for a fundamental reformation of Islam.
Imagine for a moment that you are sitting in an afternoon section of an 18.03 (Differential Equations) class. Your professor is explaining how to solve a differential equation, and is interrupted midsentence by two surprise guests who walk into the classroom: armed men wearing military uniforms. In the tense silence that follows, one of them whispers into the professor’s ear, and then the professor points at you. The men lead you out to another empty classroom and begin interrogating you. The topic of questioning turns to your religion, and you answer the questions truthfully. You are then told that you are being expelled from MIT and barred from ever attending any institution of higher learning in the country.