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Infidel Paperback – April 1, 2008
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"A brave and elegant figure...an honest woman...No one who reads her [memoirs] will doubt the self-questioning and the rigorous honesty of her mind. Perhaps, as in Voltaire's short story 'L'IngÉnu,' it is that too much honesty is sometimes unpalatable, even if it is couched in civil terms...She has an open mind that has released itself from the old straitjacketed frame of reference of Right and Left, she is instinctively, deeply antiauthoritarian and she is unlikely to stick to straight ideological lines. She will go on asking difficult questions."
-- Isabella Thomas, The Observer
"Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of Europe's most controversial political figures and a target for terrorists. A notably enigmatic personality whose fierce criticisms of Islam have made her a darling of...conservatives...and...popular with leftists...Soft-spoken but passionate."
-- The Boston Globe
"Too potent a social critic to be tolerated any longer [in her home country]...an unflinching advocate of women's rights and an unflinching critic of Islamic extremism."
-- The New York Times
"A charismatic figure...of arresting and hypnotizing beauty...[who writes] with quite astonishing humor and restraint."
-- Christopher Hitchens
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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For me a 5 star book has to be a book that can last and can be read for a long time. Her writing flows and I felt what she wrote was pure and honest. She introduced us to her feelings even if it put her in a not so nice light. Her input and messages were to the point when describing her intake of the situation.
I originally thought this would be a book bashing Islam when it fact it wasn't at all. Theoretically, you could swamp out Islam from the book and replace it with Christianity, Judaism, communism, liberalism, conservatism or any "ism" that demands man or woman to stop thinking for themselves and to blindly obey. She even covers tribalism that had a direct devastating affect on Somalia to this day.
Stating that, Ayaan provides us a very interesting background to her dissatisfaction with Islam, specific to her. She shows the violent side of the faith especially to women. She shows us life in Somalia and Saudi Arabia and what is happening to women. The submission to the religion is generating violence in the home, honor killings, female circumcision, radicalism and of course terrorism.
Her history is realistic. I feel she never over does it and no matter how hard it was with her parents, she still cares for them. Her message is clear, Islam, like any submissive ideology, needs to go through enlightenment. It needs to stamp out the causes that generate violence. The message is a positive and open one. Her book gave me a lot to think about and I hope it will do for you.
The second half doesn't give the reader the same insight into the deeper levels of author's personal life. But this is all with good reason: now the topic of the book shifts to the issue of integration of the refugees in Holland. There are no easy situations and the author does not hesitate to give her clear and very persuasive views which can be also be at the same time very painful revelations.
This is great book which addresses timely topics.