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Editor’s Note

“Extremism to Activism....”

A fundamentalist past leads to a politically-charged future, where the outspoken Ali works tirelessly against the forces of religious extremism in the name of progress.
Scribd Editor
In this profoundly affecting memoir from the internationally renowned author of The Caged Virgin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her astonishing life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, to her intellectual awakening and activism in the Netherlands, and her current life under armed guard in the West.

One of today's most admired and controversial political figures, Ayaan Hirsi Ali burst into international headlines following an Islamist's murder of her colleague, Theo van Gogh, with whom she made the movie Submission.

Infidel is the eagerly awaited story of the coming of age of this elegant, distinguished—and sometimes reviled—political superstar and champion of free speech. With a gimlet eye and measured, often ironic, voice, Hirsi Ali recounts the evolution of her beliefs, her ironclad will, and her extraordinary resolve to fight injustice done in the name of religion. Raised in a strict Muslim family and extended clan, Hirsi Ali survived civil war, female mutilation, brutal beatings, adolescence as a devout believer during the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and life in four troubled, unstable countries largely ruled by despots. In her early twenties, she escaped from a forced marriage and sought asylum in the Netherlands, where she earned a college degree in political science, tried to help her tragically depressed sister adjust to the West, and fought for the rights of Muslim immigrant women and the reform of Islam as a member of Parliament. Even though she is under constant threat—demonized by reactionary Islamists and politicians, disowned by her father, and expelled from her family and clan—she refuses to be silenced.

Ultimately a celebration of triumph over adversity, Hirsi Ali's story tells how a bright little girl evolved out of dutiful obedience to become an outspoken, pioneering freedom fighter. As Western governments struggle to balance democratic ideals with religious pressures, no story could be timelier or more significant.

Topics: Somalia, Kenya, Africa, Saudi Arabia, Holland, 1980s, 1990s, Political Commentary, Inspirational, Islam, Politics, Feminism, Atheism, The Middle East, Immigration, Refugees, Civil and Political Rights, Escaping Oppression, Sexism, Abuse, Fundamentalism, Family, Courage, Multicultural, Coming of Age, and African American Author

Published: Atria Books on
ISBN: 9781416538592
List price: $13.99
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Wow, what a great book. I wish I had written this review the moment I'd finished it cause that was about 3 weeks ago and I had so many things to say. Now of course I forgot.

I do know that I loved it and thought provoking. It became a bit harder for me to read once she got to my country cause that made me so angry. In 1993 we already had so many refugees living in this country and people were complaining about it and reading this there is the proof that so many of them lied but what angered me more is that they want to live here but then they look down to us. (not everybody but majority) They were allowed to live like they used to live, (Year null) and not mix. We now have so many mosques here and many problems. Still most to blame is the government who allowed this. Anyways, I very much admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali and wish there were more people like her. Highly recommend this book.more
I learned what it meant to be raised as a Muslim woman and how many women are still fighting for their basic human rights.more
Reading this I was frequently reminded of Frederick Douglass' middle biography, My Bondage and My Freedom, which I read a few months ago. That's not to say I would equate Ayaan Hirsi Ali in stature or as a writer. This doesn't have quite the eloquence, the striking lines or piercing psychological and sociological insights of Douglass. Given Hirsi was born in Somalia, grew up there and in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya and received her higher education in the Netherlands, it's doubtful she had read that 19th century American intellectual and anti-slavery activist. But I can't help but think they would have understood each other. Both Douglass and Hirsi are utterly courageous and both in their times controversial--and their memoirs passionate polemics seeking to spark profound political change--and, above all, both memoirs are about a journey to freedom. Hirsi said of her decision to seek asylum in the Netherlands rather than accept her arranged marriage that: "I would not have put it this way in those days, but because I was born a woman, I could never be an adult [in Muslim society]. I would always be a minor, my decisions made for me... I would be dependent--always--on someone treating me well."So she choose freedom. Then, working as a translator to put herself through school she'd work with and at police stations, hospitals, clinics, women's shelters, prisons, schools--and discover the disturbing reality that in the name of "Dutch Values" and "multiculturalism" Muslim women immigrants were being battered, even murdered in honor killings and "little children were [being] excised on kitchen tables" and it was being ignored and tolerated. By "excised" Hirsi means genital mutilation--which she had undergone herself as a young child. I'm tempted to explain exactly what that means--but Hirsi's description of what was done to her and others isn't for the faint of heart. I had a professor in college who called what was done to her "female circumcision" and a "rite of passage." (Village, please pick up your idiot at Fordham University). I'd love to send my old professor a copy of this book--with bookmarks and highlighted text. What Hirsi saw pushed her into speaking out, led to her becoming a member of the Dutch Parliament--and to threats on her life.In her introduction, and in more detail later in the book, Hirsi described how in 2004 her friend Theo van Gogh was assassinated because of a short film he made with her, Submission, critical of Islam. A note was pinned to his chest saying Hirsi was next. A bit more than two months ago, another video critical of Islam, Innocence of Muslims, uploaded to YouTube was blamed for the assassination of America's ambassador to Libya and dozens of deaths. The director of the video, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, given he was on probation, was able to be arrested in America and charged with using a pseudonym to upload the video and "accessing the internet without authorization." A couple of weeks ago he was sentenced to prison--where he is now incarcerated. One might claim rules are rules, and he violated his probation. (Just as Hirsi in the wake of the van Gogh murder would find herself almost stripped of her Dutch citizenship using technicalities involving her application for refugee status.) Regardless of the dubious qualities of Nakoula's video, the parallels and chilling effects on speech of appeasing violence sure seem clear to me. Nor is that the only parallel out of current headlines I can find in Hirsi's story.I should also warn Hirsi will prickle sensibilities on the left and right. She is upfront about her spiritual journey that has led her to become an atheist and many of her criticisms of Islam can be applied to Christianity--or any other faith. And though I find Hirsi's tone respectful to those of other views... Well, some on the religious right might be offended before they ever get to the body of the text given Christopher Hitchens' Foreword openly scornful of religion. And there's plenty in the main text to raise the hackles of the politically correct left in Hirsi's criticisms of multiculturalism. But Hirsi not only should be supported in her right to speak out, but deserves to be listened to. This book might not be "amazing" in the sense of depth of the ideas or undying prose (though it is fluid and lucid), but this is an amazing life story that often moved and outraged me, is eye-opening about Muslim society and the plight of women there, and deals with issues urgent and timely.more
This memoir tells the journey that Ms. Hirsi Ali went on from a child steeped in the Muslim traditions of her family and culture to the adult who has renounced Islam and fights for women's rights. Her words and experiences made me think about the ideas of self-determination vs. cultural traditions and also about the willingness to fight for something even in the face of death. The narration was interesting because the author did the reading.more
Read all 82 reviews

Reviews

Wow, what a great book. I wish I had written this review the moment I'd finished it cause that was about 3 weeks ago and I had so many things to say. Now of course I forgot.

I do know that I loved it and thought provoking. It became a bit harder for me to read once she got to my country cause that made me so angry. In 1993 we already had so many refugees living in this country and people were complaining about it and reading this there is the proof that so many of them lied but what angered me more is that they want to live here but then they look down to us. (not everybody but majority) They were allowed to live like they used to live, (Year null) and not mix. We now have so many mosques here and many problems. Still most to blame is the government who allowed this. Anyways, I very much admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali and wish there were more people like her. Highly recommend this book.more
I learned what it meant to be raised as a Muslim woman and how many women are still fighting for their basic human rights.more
Reading this I was frequently reminded of Frederick Douglass' middle biography, My Bondage and My Freedom, which I read a few months ago. That's not to say I would equate Ayaan Hirsi Ali in stature or as a writer. This doesn't have quite the eloquence, the striking lines or piercing psychological and sociological insights of Douglass. Given Hirsi was born in Somalia, grew up there and in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya and received her higher education in the Netherlands, it's doubtful she had read that 19th century American intellectual and anti-slavery activist. But I can't help but think they would have understood each other. Both Douglass and Hirsi are utterly courageous and both in their times controversial--and their memoirs passionate polemics seeking to spark profound political change--and, above all, both memoirs are about a journey to freedom. Hirsi said of her decision to seek asylum in the Netherlands rather than accept her arranged marriage that: "I would not have put it this way in those days, but because I was born a woman, I could never be an adult [in Muslim society]. I would always be a minor, my decisions made for me... I would be dependent--always--on someone treating me well."So she choose freedom. Then, working as a translator to put herself through school she'd work with and at police stations, hospitals, clinics, women's shelters, prisons, schools--and discover the disturbing reality that in the name of "Dutch Values" and "multiculturalism" Muslim women immigrants were being battered, even murdered in honor killings and "little children were [being] excised on kitchen tables" and it was being ignored and tolerated. By "excised" Hirsi means genital mutilation--which she had undergone herself as a young child. I'm tempted to explain exactly what that means--but Hirsi's description of what was done to her and others isn't for the faint of heart. I had a professor in college who called what was done to her "female circumcision" and a "rite of passage." (Village, please pick up your idiot at Fordham University). I'd love to send my old professor a copy of this book--with bookmarks and highlighted text. What Hirsi saw pushed her into speaking out, led to her becoming a member of the Dutch Parliament--and to threats on her life.In her introduction, and in more detail later in the book, Hirsi described how in 2004 her friend Theo van Gogh was assassinated because of a short film he made with her, Submission, critical of Islam. A note was pinned to his chest saying Hirsi was next. A bit more than two months ago, another video critical of Islam, Innocence of Muslims, uploaded to YouTube was blamed for the assassination of America's ambassador to Libya and dozens of deaths. The director of the video, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, given he was on probation, was able to be arrested in America and charged with using a pseudonym to upload the video and "accessing the internet without authorization." A couple of weeks ago he was sentenced to prison--where he is now incarcerated. One might claim rules are rules, and he violated his probation. (Just as Hirsi in the wake of the van Gogh murder would find herself almost stripped of her Dutch citizenship using technicalities involving her application for refugee status.) Regardless of the dubious qualities of Nakoula's video, the parallels and chilling effects on speech of appeasing violence sure seem clear to me. Nor is that the only parallel out of current headlines I can find in Hirsi's story.I should also warn Hirsi will prickle sensibilities on the left and right. She is upfront about her spiritual journey that has led her to become an atheist and many of her criticisms of Islam can be applied to Christianity--or any other faith. And though I find Hirsi's tone respectful to those of other views... Well, some on the religious right might be offended before they ever get to the body of the text given Christopher Hitchens' Foreword openly scornful of religion. And there's plenty in the main text to raise the hackles of the politically correct left in Hirsi's criticisms of multiculturalism. But Hirsi not only should be supported in her right to speak out, but deserves to be listened to. This book might not be "amazing" in the sense of depth of the ideas or undying prose (though it is fluid and lucid), but this is an amazing life story that often moved and outraged me, is eye-opening about Muslim society and the plight of women there, and deals with issues urgent and timely.more
This memoir tells the journey that Ms. Hirsi Ali went on from a child steeped in the Muslim traditions of her family and culture to the adult who has renounced Islam and fights for women's rights. Her words and experiences made me think about the ideas of self-determination vs. cultural traditions and also about the willingness to fight for something even in the face of death. The narration was interesting because the author did the reading.more
A fascinating life journey from Islamic fundamentalism to humanistic atheism, advocacy for Muslim women rights and immigrant integration. And, most certainly, a harrowing journey it had been. The story of Ali is fairly well known- she had to live with bodyguards in fear of her life after being critical of Islam and of practices of female genital circumcision in particular. She shares Salman Rushdie’s fate in this respect.more
This book was given to me by my daughter,she found reading it to be a "life-changing" experience. I also found it to be a book that will stay with me always. What an incredibly brave woman!more
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