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Infidel: My Life Paperback – Print, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Readers with an eye on European politics will recognize Ali as the Somali-born member of the Dutch parliament who faced death threats after collaborating on a film about domestic violence against Muslim women with controversial director Theo van Gogh (who was himself assassinated). Even before then, her attacks on Islamic culture as "brutal, bigoted, [and] fixated on controlling women" had generated much controversy. In this suspenseful account of her life and her internal struggle with her Muslim faith, she discusses how these views were shaped by her experiences amid the political chaos of Somalia and other African nations, where she was subjected to genital mutilation and later forced into an unwanted marriage. While in transit to her husband in Canada, she decided to seek asylum in the Netherlands, where she marveled at the polite policemen and government bureaucrats. Ali is up-front about having lied about her background in order to obtain her citizenship, which led to further controversy in early 2006, when an immigration official sought to deport her and triggered the collapse of the Dutch coalition government. Apart from feelings of guilt over van Gogh's death, her voice is forceful and unbowed—like Irshad Manji, she delivers a powerful feminist critique of Islam informed by a genuine understanding of the religion. 8-page photo insert. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Although Ayaan Hirsi Ali remains Public Enemy #1 for radical Muslims, she refuses to be silenced. In this captivating memoiran act of courage itselfshe shares the evolution of her values, beliefs, and identity, all propelled by an urgent mission to educate Western countries about the bigotries of other nations. Set against a terrifying geopolitical landscape of African wars and Muslim fundamentalism, Hirsi Ali addresses timely topics: the plight of refugees and women; the Muslim clan system; forced marriage; political asylum; and, perhaps most significantly, her own personal religious crisis. Written in descriptive, clear prose, Infidel, with its radical feminist criticism of Islam, offers a disturbing view of the modern worldand inspired every critic who read it.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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This very personal biographical story takes Ayann Hirsi Ali from her earliest childhood through her sojourn in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. She lived long enough in Holland to be elected to Parliament in that country, no small feat for anyone but a monumental accomplishment for an immigrant.
She now lives and teaches in the USA.
She tells of her own mutilation, at age five, and explains Muslim belief that the practice promotes 'purity' in the female population. She tells of listening to neighbors in the evening beating their wives in Saudi Arabia. Again, this practice is explicitly encouraged by Mohammad himself to 'benefit' the woman being beaten.
This is a long book and difficult to absorb. Her life and the lives of numerous other Muslim women are pinched, tiny, painful and filled with a hopeless submission to husbands, fathers and even to sons and brothers. But as hard as this is to read, to assimilate and to acknowledge it must be read. You must read it.
Female genital mutilation, routine beatings at the hands of her elders, head cracking sexual assault by her religious teacher, dependency and ghettoization in three countries, walking through bloodshed and starvation as Somalia descended into clan warfare, and forced into marriage to a relative previously unknown to her by a father who serially started and then abandoned families form the backdrop to the early life of the author. By the perverse logic of blind allegiance to the faith and traditions of Islam as taught and practiced by millions around her, she found herself in a mental cage imposed by self and community.
Rejection of the life described so well and imposed so forcefully was gradual, and then in an epiphany, as she saw fellow Muslin immigrants to a welcoming Holland celebrate the events September 11, 2001. In the blink of an eye she was elected to the Dutch parliament.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is despised, marked for death, in part due to "Submission", her 10 minute video questioning Islam. Indeed co-creator Theo Van Gogh was brutally murdered by a Muslim immigrant acting out his faith. In Ayaan's world a heavy price is to be paid for those who notice that the emperor has no clothes.
Because the world described by the author is on a collision course with what was so comfortably called "western civilization" back in the day, I do highly recommend reading this book. Oh yes I do.