Tuesday, June 8, 2010

65: The Self Empowered Woman: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Dear Followers:

Can't believe that it's already June! Today I'd like to share the story of a remarkable 40 year old woman who has risked everything in order to work as an outspoken, prominent critic of Islam.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born on November 13th (my birthday) in 1969 in Mogadishu, Somalia. Her father was politically active and because of his opposition to the Siad Barre government he was imprisoned (1: Non Existent Paternal Safety Net).

Her father had studied abroad and was opposed to female genital cutting, but while he was in prison Hirsi Ali's religious grandmother (3: Belief In the Unbelievable) submitted the five year old little girl to what most people refer to as genital mutilation. But she explains it by saying "I have the stitch-up part. If ...you should remain a virgin until your wedding night [your family is] going to apply the approach where you get sewed."

Ayaan's family moved from Somalia to Saudi Arabia, then Ethiopia, and then Nairobi, Kenya. During those years she received a Saudi-funded education, studied the Qur'an, and wore a Hijab with her school uniform. But after finishing secondary school, she enrolled in a secretarial course in Nairobi and became introduced to Western culture and values. And like other Self Empowered Women (Madeleine Albright, Sandra Day O'Connor and Sonia Sotomayor - among so many others)became a big fan of Nancy Drew mysteries.

In 1992, Ayaan's father instructed her that she would marry a distant cousin who she considered to be both a "bigot" and an "idiot." On a pre-wedding trip from Kenya to visit relatives in Germany, she bravely traveled to the Netherlands and requested political asylum (11: Risk Addiction).

Since that time she has worked tirelessly on behalf of battered females, especially Muslim girls and women. In 2002, she renounced Islam and became an atheist. After her book "The Son Factory" (which criticized Islam and Islamic culture) was published, she began to receive death threats. Today, wherever she travels she has armed escorts (5: Life Is Not a Popularity Contest).

Hirsi Ali's activism in the Netherlands has caught the attention of feminists around the world. Her 2007 memoir "Infidel" became a bestseller and last month her new book "Nomad: From Islam to America" showed signs of being equally successful.

Looking forward to your comments...

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