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Ayaan Hirsi Ali's passionate criticism of Islam

June 8, 2010 |  1:44 pm


Biography is not always destiny, but Ayaan Hirsi Ali's background is essential to understanding her point of view. The 40-year-old intellectual was born in Somalia and raised in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. At 21, she emigrated to the Netherlands rather than endure a forced marriage. After the 9/11 attacks, she renounced Islam. She was elected to the Dutch parliament as a conservative, calling attention to the plight of Muslim women and girls. She penned the screenplay for "Submission," the film which led to director Theo Van Gogh's murder by Muslim extremists -- and the threatening note left on his body was addressed to her.

Since that time, Hirsi Ali has lived in the U.S., been a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and penned the books "The Caged Virgin" and "Infidel." Her new book, "Nomad," showcases her increasingly polarizing views. From our review:

Intolerance in the defense of freedom is a hard sell, and "Nomad" is a tough jeremiad to read. Other books may examine why Muslim suicide bombers mostly kill other Muslims, or the history of the Sunni-Shia split, or how the fire-and-brimstone Islam of Saudi Arabia differs from that in Indonesia, the world's largest Islamic nation. But you'll find none of that here.

Fired with the zeal of a convert, Hirsi Ali insists Islam and the West are locked in "a clash of civilizations," the rallying cry of the Fox News Channel's vox populi. The "dysfunctional Muslim family constitutes a real threat to the very fabric of Western life," she warns. The "Muslim mind," she declares, is "in the grip of jihad."

"'Nomad,'" our reviewer Bob Drogan writes, "is a tough jeremiad to read." Read our complete review here.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Ayaan Hirsi Ali being interviewed by Belgian liberal theorist Dirk Verhofstadt in March 2010. Credit: Julien Warnand / EPA

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