In this profoundly affecting memoir from the internationally renowned author of The Caged Virgin and Nomad, 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.
Readers with an eye on European politics will recognize Ali as the Somali-born member of the Dutch parliament who faced death threats after collaborating on a film about domestic violence against Muslim women with controversial director Theo van Gogh (who was himself assassinated). Even before then, her attacks on Islamic culture as "brutal, bigoted, fixated on controlling women" had generated much controversy. In this suspenseful account of her life and her internal struggle with her Muslim faith, she discusses how these views were shaped by her experiences amid the political chaos of Somalia and other African nations, where she was subjected to genital mutilation and later forced into an unwanted marriage. While in transit to her husband in Canada, she decided to seek asylum in the Netherlands, where she marveled at the polite policemen and government bureaucrats. Ali is up-front about having lied about her background in order to obtain her citizenship, which led to further controversy in early 2006, when an immigration official sought to deport her and triggered the collapse of the Dutch coalition government. Apart from feelings of guilt over van Gogh's death, her voice is forceful and unbowed like Irshad Manji, she delivers a powerful feminist critique of Islam informed by a genuine understanding of the religion. 8-page photo insert.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A must read for people of all faiths and backgrounds. Ayaan's personal journey will make you cry, laugh, cringe, and open your eyes to a part of the world people rarely speak of. Her writing is witty and concise. A highly recommended read to anyone interested in analysis of Islam and cultural integration policies in Europe.
Amazed and Ashamed
I first heard of and saw her on the Bill Mayer show and it just so happened that I just finished the book "The Pirates of Somalia." Her interview went right along with my questioning attitude. I bought the book and was amazed at where she started and how far she went in life...inspirational indeed. I was ashamed at how most of the religions and their books are mostly geared towards men being in control, using their religion as an excuse, and treating woman like they themselves would not want to be treated, because the "men" that wrote these books said they could. I learned a lot about how different, cultures can be, compared to my own. Great book and a great read. Keep speaking on what's true and humanely right.
I couldn't put this book down. Many people are good, kind and loving in this world, but so few are courageous. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the few.