Yup, we’ve got that one

And more than one million more. Become a member today and read free for two weeks.

Read free for two weeks

A riveting look at militant Islam, Muslim women’s rights, and the war on terror—brought into focus through two lives on opposite sides: activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali and religious extremist Aafia Siddiqui.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born former member of the Dutch Parliament and the author of the international bestseller Infidel, was raised as a Muslim fundamentalist in Kenya. A feminist, political analyst, writer, and fierce critic of her former religion, she champions the West in what she insists must be a war against Islam. Hirsi Ali’s personal tale of courage in the face of constant threats from violent, fanatic enemies has won the admiration of millions in America and around the world.

Aafia Siddiqui, a native of Pakistan, moved to the United States to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience. A decade later, she returned to Pakistan, where her involvement with al-Qaeda, including her marriage to one of the 9/11 plotters, led the CIA to regard her as one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world. Her disappearance, capture, and conviction in a New York City courtroom for attempted murder have earned her, too, admiration across the globe—from millions of radical Islamists.

Reconstructing the histories of these two women, award-winning author and journalist Deborah Scroggins weaves a provocative true-life thriller from two separate but strangely parallel lives in a time of bitter battle. Based on remarkable original research and reporting, Wanted Women traces their origins to explain why they chose opposite paths and how each has risen to become revered and reviled as an international symbol of her beliefs. Scroggins reveals controversial details about Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui, and about the political machinations that have transformed them into emblems of a civilizational struggle. Wanted Women provides an illustrative take on our time, stripping away the illusions—about women, war, faith, and power—that have distorted the conflict on both sides.

Published: HarperCollins on Jan 17, 2012
ISBN: 9780062097958
List price: $12.62
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for Wanted Women
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
Clear rating

This gripping narrative is a kind of parallel biography of two controversial women, both Muslim, who ended up taking radical and radically different approaches to the West and to their faith. While Pakistani-born, MIT-educated neuroscientist Aafia al-Siddiqui became an even more convinced Islamist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali made her name as an atheist equating Islam with oppression -- by definition. One is probably well known by name here; the other not. "To her followers, each woman is an icon; her legend will always be more alluring than her reality." And Scroggins has done a pretty good job contrasting the legend with the reality, although her success was doomed to be limited by the very nature of Pakistani political culture -- being unable to speak with the Siddiqui family or get to the bottom of Aafia's "lost years" inevitably limits her ability to completely portray that woman's life, whereas Ayaan Hirsi Ali led her life in the glow of the public eye. But in both cases, Scroggins gets behind the public hysteria, both pro and con, to calmly and coolly present the facts. In Aafia's case, that was less surprising to me; while I wasn't familiar with much more than her name, I'm familiar enough with the basics of political Islam to understand the context; the surprise was in the degree to which she became part of the West, studying and living in the United States for a decade and raising two children here, and yet living a parallel life, in a way. Scroggins' portrayal of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, on the other hand, is almost certain to be controversial -- but again, the research is painstaking and her conclusions are a reminder of the dangers of inhabiting a black and white world. To Ayaan, there can never be any such thing as a moderate Muslim; it's a contradiction in terms, and understandably, that infuriates the millions of moderate Muslims. Certainly, she is a polarizing figure, and it's arguable that while she initially claimed to be trying to obtain justice for Muslim women, she ended up creating at atmosphere where they would be unable to do so, both by radicalizing her opponents and by winning support for the idea that Islam is an evil religion, and a woman who chooses to remain a believer is choosing oppression and thus (implicitly) not worthy of support. I was familiar with the controversies surrounding Ali's refugee status in the Netherlands and her arrival in the United States; I wasn't aware of all the nuances surrounding that. Looking at her writings, I've long wondered about whether she is really a "scholar" -- she seems to be writing the same thing, over and over again -- but because of what it is that she is saying, there is a will to believe that she is, even when her writings are proven incorrect. Ultimately, this should be a reminder to anyone who wants to place a halo on anyone's head -- that charisma should always be met with a matter-of-fact analysis. True, as Scroggins points out, Ayaan Hirsi Ali doesn't advocate murder; words are her weapons. In contrast, Aafia al-Siddiqui was plotting (albeit unsuccessfully) mayhem and mass destruction. But words can lead to or provide the justification for violence, and violence can provide a rationale for hateful speech and narrow-mindedness. I ended up wanting to put both women on a desert island somewhere, because the absolutism of both terrified me. That testifies to the success of this book, despite its inevitable limitations and occasional structural awkwardness. Reviewers who find it biased are, I fear, basing their views more on what they wanted Scroggins to say -- to canonize Ayaan while despising Siddiqui -- whereas what the author actually did was to submit both women's lives to the same kind of analysts. The result isn't perfect, but Scroggins brings no agenda to it -- she's no relativist arguing that Siddiqui's views are rational, but she's also alert to the fact that Hirsi Ali is not some next-gen Enlightenment goddess, either. Recommended to those genuinely curious, but not to those who already have their minds firmly made up and don't want their opinions challenged. 4.4 stars.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.

Reviews

This gripping narrative is a kind of parallel biography of two controversial women, both Muslim, who ended up taking radical and radically different approaches to the West and to their faith. While Pakistani-born, MIT-educated neuroscientist Aafia al-Siddiqui became an even more convinced Islamist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali made her name as an atheist equating Islam with oppression -- by definition. One is probably well known by name here; the other not. "To her followers, each woman is an icon; her legend will always be more alluring than her reality." And Scroggins has done a pretty good job contrasting the legend with the reality, although her success was doomed to be limited by the very nature of Pakistani political culture -- being unable to speak with the Siddiqui family or get to the bottom of Aafia's "lost years" inevitably limits her ability to completely portray that woman's life, whereas Ayaan Hirsi Ali led her life in the glow of the public eye. But in both cases, Scroggins gets behind the public hysteria, both pro and con, to calmly and coolly present the facts. In Aafia's case, that was less surprising to me; while I wasn't familiar with much more than her name, I'm familiar enough with the basics of political Islam to understand the context; the surprise was in the degree to which she became part of the West, studying and living in the United States for a decade and raising two children here, and yet living a parallel life, in a way. Scroggins' portrayal of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, on the other hand, is almost certain to be controversial -- but again, the research is painstaking and her conclusions are a reminder of the dangers of inhabiting a black and white world. To Ayaan, there can never be any such thing as a moderate Muslim; it's a contradiction in terms, and understandably, that infuriates the millions of moderate Muslims. Certainly, she is a polarizing figure, and it's arguable that while she initially claimed to be trying to obtain justice for Muslim women, she ended up creating at atmosphere where they would be unable to do so, both by radicalizing her opponents and by winning support for the idea that Islam is an evil religion, and a woman who chooses to remain a believer is choosing oppression and thus (implicitly) not worthy of support. I was familiar with the controversies surrounding Ali's refugee status in the Netherlands and her arrival in the United States; I wasn't aware of all the nuances surrounding that. Looking at her writings, I've long wondered about whether she is really a "scholar" -- she seems to be writing the same thing, over and over again -- but because of what it is that she is saying, there is a will to believe that she is, even when her writings are proven incorrect. Ultimately, this should be a reminder to anyone who wants to place a halo on anyone's head -- that charisma should always be met with a matter-of-fact analysis. True, as Scroggins points out, Ayaan Hirsi Ali doesn't advocate murder; words are her weapons. In contrast, Aafia al-Siddiqui was plotting (albeit unsuccessfully) mayhem and mass destruction. But words can lead to or provide the justification for violence, and violence can provide a rationale for hateful speech and narrow-mindedness. I ended up wanting to put both women on a desert island somewhere, because the absolutism of both terrified me. That testifies to the success of this book, despite its inevitable limitations and occasional structural awkwardness. Reviewers who find it biased are, I fear, basing their views more on what they wanted Scroggins to say -- to canonize Ayaan while despising Siddiqui -- whereas what the author actually did was to submit both women's lives to the same kind of analysts. The result isn't perfect, but Scroggins brings no agenda to it -- she's no relativist arguing that Siddiqui's views are rational, but she's also alert to the fact that Hirsi Ali is not some next-gen Enlightenment goddess, either. Recommended to those genuinely curious, but not to those who already have their minds firmly made up and don't want their opinions challenged. 4.4 stars.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
scribd