Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a must read! This book, a memoir, is so beautifully written. I thought it will be about her apostasy, but in the first 260 pages of the book she is a Muslim. She talks about her life, from when she was born in Somalia, about her family, about moving to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. By chance she reached the Netherlands where her life changed drastically, for the first time she had agency in her life.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her life story in Infidel. She is a survivor of female genital mutilation. As a child she was abused by her mother, which is sort of normal in the countries she lived in, but not in Europe, so I am going to use our values to describe what happened to her. Thus, she was abused since she was a toddler. She was poorly educated (by western standards) and received brutal beatings on a regular basis, from her mother and not only. Indoctrinated, she became a devout believer, and was given into marriage to a man she did not know or like, a forced marriage. Escaping to the Netherlands, Ayaan managed to get an education while working to support herself (and send money back to Africa to her family), got citizenship, and was elected to the Dutch Parliament. Her views and experience of the Labour Party in the Netherlands, which she joined, were not exactly great and I think there are similarities with the left-wing parties in UK and other countries. Amazingly, they were willing to censor her because talking against what was seen as a Muslim culture would be “racist”, so Labour was willing to let women suffer and be abused so they could feel better about themselves, as they were, apparently, inclusive.
I didn’t want to talk or share too much of her childhood, it’s better to read the book, her style of writing is just beautiful. I found fascinating to read about the differences between the countries she lived in, to see the different cultures, their own biases and racism, which I did not expect at all. How she recalled moving to Europe and discovering a different culture, so very different than hers, was just as fascinating.
I will share only a short quote:
“The message of the book, if it must have a message, is that we in the West would be wrong to prolong the pain of that transition unnecessarily, by elevating cultures full of bigotry and hatred towards women to the same stature of respectable alternative ways of life.”
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
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My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: YES!!!
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Year it was published: 2008 (first published in 2007)
About the author: Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Somali: Ayaan Xirsi Cali; born Ayaan Hirsi Magan 13 November 1969) is a Dutch feminist, writer, and politician. She is the estranged daughter of the Somali scholar, politician, and revolutionary opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse. She is a prominent critic of Islam, and her screenplay for Theo Van Gogh’s movie Submission led to death threats. Since van Gogh’s murder by a Muslim in 2004, she has lived in seclusion under the protection of Dutch authorities.
When she was eight, her family left Somalia for Saudi Arabia, then Ethiopia, and eventually settled in Kenya. She sought and obtained political asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, under circumstances that later became the center of a political controversy. In 2003 she was elected a member of the Tweede Kamer (the Lower House of the Dutch parliament), representing the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). A political crisis surrounding the potential stripping of her Dutch citizenship led to her resignation from the parliament, and led indirectly to the fall of the second Balkenende cabinet.
She is currently a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In 2005, she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She has also received several awards for her work, including Norway’s Human Rights Service’s Bellwether of the Year Award, the Danish Freedom Prize, the Swedish Democracy Prize, and the Moral Courage Award for commitment to conflict resolution, ethics, and world citizenship.
Website & Social Media Links: ayaanhirsiali