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:


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.


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)

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

Islam and Sharia

In Saudi Arabia, a woman who was gang-raped was sentenced to 90 lashes. The reason? Before the rape, the woman, who was then 19, had been in a car with a man who was not a family member — a crime under the kingdom’s legal code, which is based on a strict Wahabi reading of Islamic law. Punishing the victim of a brutal rape is reprehensible. Then a Saudi appeals court more than doubled her lashings to 200 and added six months’ jail time, apparently because she had the audacity to publicly challenge the court’s ruling. Her lawyer had his license to practice suspended. — “Lashing Justice”, Dec 3, New York Times more here

If the Klan ran a court in Alabama, this is the kind of justice they would serve.

And yet still, still I see calls for tolerance and understanding.

The Washington Post has this gem:

At a time when Islam is under siege from Muslim extremists and extremists from the Far Right in Europe and America, the judiciaries of Sudan and Saudi Arabia have managed to reinforce the vilification of Islam and used Islamic law as a weapon rather than a yardstick for justice. All our futures depend upon an ability to agree upon a global ethic, based upon mutual understanding and respect, that transcends our religious and cultural differences. Whatever our differences, there can never be an acceptable excuse for injustice and intolerance in the name of our religions.

What kind of global ethic would it be if the Saudis and the Sudanese have a voice in crafting it? How is mutual respect possible in the face of the kind disgusting bigotry and ignorance on display in Saudi Arabia?

Islam is under siege? Islam is under siege? Islam is laying siege! Why are we expected to tolerate the beating and imprisonment of women for petty and ridiculous offenses? Why are we expected to tolerate a society that punishes adultery and homosexuality with death? Why are we expected to tolerate a culture that denies women the right to vote, own property, or testify in court? What kind of “yardstick” would such injunctions yield? How might we measure justice against such plain villainy?

This culture must be condemned. It is a cancer, a disease, and it must be treated as such.

It is pointless to claim that Islam “properly understood” is blameless in this. These are not fringe elements of a minor cult, these are national governments using the holy text of Islam to establish law. This is barbarity built upon ignorance and it must be denounced.

This is not a debate about which religious idiocy is more absurd, it’s a debate about oppression and evil. Believe in whatever religion you will. Your soul is yours to treat as you will. But the moment you mix religion with law is the moment you cast the sanctity of belief aside and become just another slavering bully. And that’s true whether you’re thumping the Quran, the Torah, the Bible, or Dianetics.

The difference is that the Pope doesn’t burn heretics anymore, the Temple was razed a long time ago, and Tom Cruise isn’t stumping for president…. yet. But Sharia is mainstream Islam. And that must be recognized, and that connection must be renounced.

Gillian Gibbons… Freed

The protesters streamed out of mosques after Friday sermons…. They massed in central Martyrs Square, outside the presidential palace, where hundreds of riot police were deployed, although they did not attempt to stop the rally.

“Shame, shame on the U.K.,” protesters chanted.

They called for Gibbons’ execution, saying, “No tolerance: Execution,” and “Kill her, kill her by firing squad.”

Thankfully, Gillian Gibbons, a British expatriate on trial in the Sudan, wasn’t sentenced to death. Instead, she received 15 days prison time and deportation.

Why is she being imprisoned and deported? Why were thousands of screaming lunatics calling for her execution?

Because she named a teddy bear Muhammad.

She’s an elementary school teacher. She gave her class a teddy bear and asked them to name it. The children named it. They brought it home and wrote stories about it. The stories were compiled into a book for the students to share. Evil bitch.

“No tolerance: Execution,” and “Kill her, kill her by firing squad.” That’s what the crowd chanted.

She named a teddy bear. She’s a teacher. They’re imprisoning and deporting a teacher.

Because they don’t need the kind of moral education Ms. Gibbons brought to their children.

Kill her, kill her by firing squad. That’s what the crowd was chanting.

This is so appalling, so disturbing, so foul. A culture that allows this, let alone encourages it, is a waste. It is a cancer, a disease.

Full story here.

12/03/07 Update:
Gillian Gibbons has received a pardon and has been released from custody. She is returning to the UK. (Story here)

However… the story includes the following absurdities.

“Common sense has prevailed,” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. He added that Gibbons will be taken to the British embassy in Khartoum after “what must have been a difficult ordeal”.

Common sense has prevailed? Prevailed? In no sense has any kind of sense prevailed. The Sudan is a cultural cesspit, a wasteland of tyranny, genocide, bigotry, and hopelessness. A woman who was trying to teach children has been forced out of her classroom, subjected to the prospect of a whipping, and bounced out of the country she called home by a group of ill-intentioned thugs and despots. There is no common sense in that, just barbarity of the most common and base sort.

But Brown wasn’t the only one.

“I have great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone and I am sorry if I caused any distress,” Gibbons said.”

Great Respect for the Islamic religion? Appalling. Disheartening. Unfathomable. The words, “sanction of the victim” leap to mind. Would she hold “great respect” for the Klan? For fascist thugs? Or is she just scared out of her mind? And what would that say about the “Islam as peace” nonsense?

I know, we’re supposed to treat all religions with respect and toleration. But why does pasting a veneer of complete absurdity across the face of tyranny and bigotry render the atrocity of an ideology somehow palatable? I don’t excuse the inquisition just because Torquemada was sincere in his beliefs.

Imagine the following conversation.

IslamoFascistWhackJob: “I believe that women are second class citizens. I believe that Jews are evil. I believe that women should not vote, that an adulteress should be murdered. I believe that Salman Rushdie should die for writing a book. So should a teacher who named a teddy bear after a seventh century illiterate.”

WesternBoob: “You are a moral monster.”

IslamoFascistWhackJob: “But wait! I believe that because the same 7th century illiterate peasant claimed that God spoke to him.”

WesternBoob: “Oh! That’s all right then. Wait, didn’t he have sex with a nine-year old girl?”

IslamoFascistWhackJob: “Yes, but he married her when she was six.”

WesternBoob: “Oh, well… each to his own I suppose.”