Infidel

Infidel

Infidel

Just finished Infidel.

Buy it.  Read it.

It’s an amazing book by an absolutely amazing woman.  An unflinching, honest, wrenching and extraordinary memoir from a woman about whom not enough can be said.

I’ve written about Ayaan Hirsi Ali before, but nothing really prepared me for this book. I’m simply astounded and awed.

Two excerpts:

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One November morning in 2004, Theo van Gogh got up to go to work at his film production company in Amsterdam. He took out his old black bicycle and headed down a main road. Waiting in a doorway was a Moroccan man with a handgun and two butcher knives.

As Theo cycled down the Linnaeusstraat, Muhammad Bouyeri approached. He pulled out his gun and shot Theo several times. Theo fell off his bike and lurched across the road, then collapsed. Bouyeri followed. Theo begged, “Can’t we talk about this?” but Bouyeri shot him four more times. Then he took out one of his butcher knives and sawed into Theo’s throat. With the other knife, he stabbed a five-page letter onto Theo’s chest.

The letter was addressed to me.

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When I was born, my mother initially thought death had taken me away. But it didn’t. When I got malaria and pneumonia, I recovered. When my genitals were cut, the wound healed. When a bandit held a knife to my throat, he decided not to slit it. When my Quran teacher fractured my skull, the doctor who treated me kept death at bay.

Even with bodyguards and death threats I feel privileged to be alive and free.

People accuse me of having interiorized a feeling of racial inferiority, so that I attack my own culture out of self-hatred, because I want to be white. This is a tiresome argument.

Tell me, is freedom then only for white people? Is it self-love to adhere to my ancestors’ traditions and mutilate my daughters? To agree to be humiliated and powerless? To watch passively as my countrymen abuse women and slaughter each other in pointless disputes?

When I came to a new culture — where I saw for the first time that human relations could be different —
The kind of thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia preserves a feudal mind-set based on tribal concepts of honor and shame. Would it have been self-love to see that as a foreign cult, which Muslims are forbidden to practice?

Life is better in Europe than it is in the Muslim world because human relations are better — and one reason human relations are better is that in the West, life on earth is valued in the here and now and individuals enjoy rights and freedoms that are recognized and protected by the state.

To accept subordination and abuse because Allah willed it — that, for me, would be self-hatred.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The always fascinating and inspiring Ayaan Hirsi Ali:   (HT Kirk Petersen)

http://www.kaltura.com/index.php/kwidget/wid/o6hvweea0w

A short biography is here. It’s worth a read.

Her auotbiography, Infidel:

“I am Ayaan, the daughter of Hirsi, the son of Magan.”

In the first scene of Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a child of 5, sitting on a grass mat. Her grandmother is teaching her to recite the names of her ancestors, as all Somali children must learn to do. “Get it right,” her grandmother warns. “They are your bloodline. . . . If you dishonor them you will be forsaken. You will be nothing. You will lead a wretched life and die alone.”

Thus begins the extraordinary story of a woman born into a family of desert nomads, circumcised as a child, educated by radical imams in Kenya and Saudi Arabia, taught to believe that if she uncovered her hair, terrible tragedies would ensue. It’s a story that, with a few different twists, really could have led to a wretched life and a lonely death, as her grandmother warned. But instead, Hirsi Ali escaped — and transformed herself into an internationally renowned spokeswoman for the rights of Muslim women.

The break began when she slipped away from her family on her way to a forced marriage in Canada and talked her way into political asylum in Holland, using a story she herself calls “an invention.” Soon after arriving, she removed her head scarf to see if God would strike her dead. He did not. Nor were there divine consequences when, defying her ancestors, she donned blue jeans, rode a bicycle, enrolled in university, became a Dutch citizen, began to speak publicly about the mistreatment of Muslim women in Holland and won election to the Dutch parliament.

But tragedy followed fame. In 2004, Hirsi Ali helped a Dutch director, Theo van Gogh, make a controversial film, “Submission,” about Muslim women suffering from forced marriages and wife beating. Van Gogh was murdered by an angry Muslim radical in response, and Hirsi Ali went into hiding. The press began to explore her past, discovering the “inventions” that she had used to get her refugee status. The Dutch threatened to revoke her citizenship; the American Enterprise Institute offered her a job in Washington. And thus she came to be among us.

There’s also this great interview,

What are you working on next?
A book called Shortcuts to Enlightenment. It’s [about] waking up the prophet Muhammad in the New York Public Library and having him have a conversation with Karl Popper, Friedrich Hayek, and John Stuart Mill. It’s a philosophical novel.

From her site,

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Dutch parliamentarian and outspoken defender of women’s rights in Islamic societies, is at risk from a variety of extremist threats in both Europe and the United States. She has needed constant security protection since her life was first threatened in 2002. Up until October 1, 2007, this protection was provided by the Dutch government.

Now a permanent resident of the United States, Ms. Hirsi Ali must raise her own funds to oversee the financing of her costly—but necessary—protection. In response to the numerous private citizens who have expressed interest in helping Ms. Hirsi Ali fund her security detail, the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust has been established.

For more information, visit ayaanhirsiali.org/security.html