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The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam Hardcover – April 25, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Well-known feminist Ali was named as the next target of outraged Muslims in a letter pinned with a knife to the chest of slain Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, murdered in 2004. Ali was the screenwriter on Van Gogh's film Submission, which questions the individual's relationship with God through the eyes of five Muslim women. In this book, which includes the text of Submission and new essays, Ali criticizes Western nations for deliberately overlooking aspects of Muslim culture that oppress women. In their struggle to integrate ideals of individualism with respect for other cultures, the West leaves Muslim women at the mercy of a "culture of virginity" that oppresses women and threatens their liberty and their lives. Ali details abuses, from genital mutilation to arranged marriages of young girls to domestic violence, suffered by female Muslims. Ali, originally from Somalia and a member of the Dutch Parliament, challenges Western culture and Islam to honestly confront issues of religion and individual freedom in this compelling look at Islam and gender politics. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, was raised Muslim, and spent her childhood and young adulthood in Africa and Saudi Arabia. In 1992, Hirsi Ali came to the Netherlands as a refugee. She earned her college degree in political science and worked for the Dutch Labor party. She denounced Islam after the September 11 terrorist attacks and now serves as a Dutch parliamentarian, fighting for the rights of Muslim women in Europe, the enlightenment of Islam, and security in the West.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 187 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (April 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743288335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743288330
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, was raised Muslim, and spent her childhood and young adulthood in Africa and Saudi Arabia. In 1992, Hirsi Ali came to the Netherlands as a refugee. She earned her college degree in political science and worked for the Dutch Labor party. She denounced Islam after the September 11 terrorist attacks and now serves as a Dutch parliamentarian, fighting for the rights of Muslim women in Europe, the enlightenment of Islam, and security in the West.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#49 in Books > History
#49 in Books > History

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 141 people found the following review helpful By ShamayimBlue on January 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of The Caged Virgin, sets out to explain the Islamic religio-cultural mentality of staking a family's and clan's honor on the virginity and chastity of the females. Her book also exposes the numerous brutal and misogynistic practices perpetrated against women in order to keep them submissive and preserve the group's reputation; these practices include female genital mutilation, culturally sanctioned domestic abuse, forced marriages (including child marriages), and honor killings. One of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's key points is that this religio-cultural mentality and these abuses are prevalent in Muslim immigrant communities in the West. Unfortunately, politicians, academics, journalists and law enforcement officials often turn a blind eye on the plight of immigrant women, operate on a double standard that is tacitly permissive of these "cultural differences", or simply do not work efficiently enough at assisting Muslim women who are in danger.

The author herself, born in Somalia, suffered forced genital mutilation as a child and fled an arranged marriage to a stranger; growing up she was also educated to despise infidels, particularly Jews. When she arrived as a refugee in Holland, she took up work as an interpreter among Dutch Muslims and saw firsthand numerous examples of the problems and traumas of Dutch Muslim women and also men. She then became an MP, in the hopes of implementing public policy that would assist immigrants. In her book, and in speeches and interviews that she has given, she criticizes a "multicultural" or "politically correct" approach to the immigrant communities, which allows those communities to operate entirely with their own separate set of values and not assimilate any conception of individual, universal rights and personal freedom.
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95 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Peter Uys HALL OF FAME on January 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In this perceptive work, Ayaan Hirsi Ali explores a major problem of our times with admirable fluency and erudition. In the preface she points out the similarity in attitude towards the Soviets by leftists then and Islamic culture now by the adherents of multiculturalism. Because of the victim culture, those intellectuals refuse to criticize oppressive practices as Muslims are perceived to be victims of the West. For the same reason, Israel is fiercely condemned because it belongs to the West while the Palestinians get a free pass. She considers this wrongheaded and racism in its purest form, the idea of the "other" that must be shielded at all costs.

She asks the advocates of the multicultural society to acquaint themselves with the suffering of women who are treated as chattels. The notion of "group rights" are detrimental to Muslim women, and without emancipation, the socially disadvantageous position of Muslims will persist. She laments the fact that Muslim women are not listened to and calls for self-examination in the culture. Hirsi Ali also deals with the clash of cultures in Europe and examines the triangles of power in the Muslim world itself: the triangle of the strong leader, the clergy and the army, and the triangle of apathy, fundamentalism and refugees/emigration.

The author provides a brief history of her early childhood in Somalia and her personal emancipation when she emigrated to the Netherlands and explains why she had to leave Holland for the USA. There is also an interview with prominent Canadian Muslim reformer Irshad Manji, a chapter on genital mutilation and 10 tips for Muslim women who wish to leave their oppressive circumstances. A full transcript of the documentary film Submission is included, the movie that led to the death of Theo van Gogh.
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163 of 192 people found the following review helpful By scg on January 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
After reading the reviews I went back and read the book a second time highlighting and marking it up as I went. I did this because I won't be one giving this book four or five stars and I want to be fair to the author.

I must give credit where credit is due. Ms. Ali demonstrates an enormous amount of courage and great personal risk to herself to speak out against the seventh century warlord culture of Islam. Just look what happened to Van Gogh for making the film with her. As Ms. Ali correctly points out Islam is intolerant of any criticism. She even quotes another individual "You have no right not to be insulted in a democracy" which is something Islam cannot cope with.

Ms. Ali's theme of the brutality and subjugation of women in Islam strikes home for me. I have seen this in other parts of the world as I have lived over half my life outside of the US in some countries where walking about without a firearm in your immediate possession was an invitation to your death. Few Americans, most Westerns as well, have zero knowledge of the second class status of women in other parts of the world. Also with three daughters and three grand daughters of my own it gets as close to home as I care to have it.

I have attended school with male students from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Burma, and Kenya where Islam is alive and well. They are spoiled - period. These students, while polite guests in the US enjoying things they deny others, made no bones about people outside the elite or royal family. Their view of women was such that animals had not only more rights but greater value. Ms Ali's theme of genital mutilation of women falls right in this vein of discussion.

I was pleased to see Ms.
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