But Walter has some good things to say, such as:
"Yet Hirsi Ali's position in this book and in Submission, the film she made with Theo Van Gogh, is problematic in a very particular way. What sticks in the throats of many of her readers is not her feminism, but her anti-Islamism. It is not patriarchy as a whole that she is battling with, but a specific patriarchy sanctioned by a specific religion. "Islam is strongly dominated by a sexual morality derived from tribal Arab values dating from the time the Prophet received his instructions from Allah, a culture in which women were the property of their fathers ... The essence of a woman is reduced to her hymen. Her veil functions as a constant reminder to the outside world of this stifling morality."
Having visited Saudi Arabia and Iran - two states where women are the property of their menfolk and their obligatory veils do serve to underline this - I agree with Hirsi Ali that this is intolerable. Even outside such grim states, it is clear that Muslim men do at times use religion to excuse their oppressive treatment of women, and that women may find piety preventing them from seeking freedom - and this too is intolerable. But it is also important to remember that many women are seeking equality within, not outside Islam, and it is not as though women's oppression does not exist outside Islam. Hirsi Ali not only paints the whole of the Islamic world with one black brush, she also paints the whole of the western world with rosy tints in order to set it as perfect day to the bleak night of the Muslim world.
So, for instance, when she considers opposing views of women she sets John Stuart Mill against the Prophet Muhammad: "Mill considered his wife an intellectual equal; Muhammad was a polygamist and wrote that men have authority over women." True enough, but hardly a fair comparison - it would have made a lot more sense if Hirsi Ali had set St Paul next to Muhammad and Fatima Mernissi next to Mill. Then we could have seen that there have been voices both of tradition and progress, when it comes to the position of women, on either side of the so-called clash of civilsations."