Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to


Posted by nliakos on June 10, 2011

by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (2007)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somali refugee turned Member of the Dutch Parliament and then a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, tells her extraordinary story in this fascinating autobiography.  Raised in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, Hirsi Ali describes experiences that most (Western) women can barely imagine.  Always a questioner and a thinker, she became a voracious reader, and it is interesting to note that it was the trashy novels she read when a schoolgirl in Kenya, as well as more literary and historical fare, that showed her the radical idea that girls and women might have the right to hold their own opinions and make their own choices. This dangerous idea eventually led her to escape the marriage her father arranged for her and to seek asylum in the Netherlands. The story of her life there constitutes the second part of the book.  Despite everyone’s advice to the contrary, she follows her dream of studying political science and eventually succeeds in publicizing the plight of Muslim women and children in a Europe she deems too willing to turn a blind eye to suffering in the name of multi-culturalism.

The book made me wonder whether I have perhaps too easily accepted my Middle Eastern students’ assurances that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and that women are not abused in the name of Allah. The picture painted by Hirsi Ali in Infidel really made me rethink.  Maybe all religions are not just different but equal, and maybe she is right when she demands that Westerners ensure that Muslim women living in Western countries be accorded the same rights as others living in the same country. This is explosive stuff!

One Response to “Infidel”

  1. […] hijacked by conservative men seeking to consolidate their power over women. (Interestingly, in Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes the opposite claim: according to her, Islam is basically skewed against […]

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