Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I have been fascinated by Ayaan Hirsi Ali since I first heard of her in 2001 when she was already making waves in Dutch politics. I read with great interest her book on the position of women in Islam, The Caged Virgin, which came out in 2005, and I'm now greatly enjoying her biography, Infidel.

As I mentioned, she's been big news in the Netherlands for years, but now with her new book (and her resignation from parliament and move to a conservative think-tank in the US), she's suddenly on bestsellers lists and making the news in North America as well.

Born in Somalia; raised as a Muslim; spent her childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya; ended up in the Netherlands where she made a false claim for refugee status, trying to get out of an arranged marriage; got a university education in political science and became a member of the Dutch parliament; wrote the script for a movie criticizing the treatment of woman in Islam -- a movie which resulted in the murder of director Theo van Gogh; and most recently, nearly had her citizenship revoked by the immigration minister, a member of her own party. You can imagine she has quite the story to tell.

I just caught a discussion on YouTube where one presenter was questioning her trustworthiness, saying not only did she lie to gain refugee status, but her stories and after-the-fact explanations don't match up. Unfortunately, the discussion was in Dutch, so I'm pretty hazy on the details. I didn't catch a date on the broadcast so I don't know if it was after publication of her memoir or during the brouhaha when Rita Verdonck wanted to revoke her citizenship.

So, she is not without controversy, and not without challenges to her story (some would say to her integrity) and her position, but nevertheless I have great respect for her and think what she has to say deserves to be heard and considered. So, if you're looking for an interesting read for the summer....check out Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.


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