This is one of the most powerful books that I’ve read lately. Whether you think Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a brave voice for Muslim women or a frightening spokesperson for assimilation, you cannot deny that she has a remarkable story and is an incredible person. Raised as a Muslim in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Ethiopia, now a Dutch citizen and former Dutch Member of Parliament, she is a fearless crusader against the worldwide oppression of women (and human beings in general) in Islamic societies.
Arriving in Holland at a time where refugees from all over the world were seeking asylum in record numbers, and working with social agencies as a translator, Ali witnessed the peril of immigrants who viewed their new country as a nation of godless hedonists, and refused to follow the rules of an open and free society. Ali has seen first-hand how European nations have turned a blind eye to the suppression of women in Muslim communities in their countries, under the often misguided pretense of multiculturalism:
“When people say that the values of Islam are compassion, tolerance, and freedom, I look at reality, at real cultures and governments, and I see that it simply isn’t so. People in the West swallow this sort of thing because they have learned not to examine the religions or cultures of minorities too critically, for fear of being called racist. It fascinates them that I am not afraid to do so.”
She’s stoked the ire of both Islamic extremists (one of whom was responsible for the murder of Theo Van Gogh, who produced a film of hers in 2004 which criticized the fundamentals of Islam) as well as of those of us politically correct westerners who’d prefer to see Islam as a religion of peace (with a few radical nutjobs on the fringe) than one of violence and oppression.
While I don’t know enough about the Quran or the history of Islam to agree with say, her assertion that there was nothing surprising about the 9/11 attacks, given the history of Islam and the militant language of the Quran, I do find her life fascinating and heroic. Reading Infidel challenges me to reconsider my liberal knee-jerk reaction against the idea of assimilation. She’s given us a clear example of how assimilation can be successful, and how the sequestering and appeasement of immigrant communities can work against the values of a free society and even be dangerous.
If you want a good ideological challenge, give it a read.