Wednesday, May 21, 2008


45. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
This is one of the most thought provoking books I've read in a long time. I'll plagiarize my GoodReads review for you here, as I can't stop thinking about this book...
I found this book very thought provoking and troubling. Hirsi Ali gives voice to the many Muslim women who are beaten, raped, killed and mutilated and not allowed to live their own lives. She does this powerfully by taking us through her experiences growing up in Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya. Eventually, she moves to Holland and gains refugee status, then becomes a Dutch citizen and gets to parliament as a critic of Islam and the Dutch policy of allowing Muslim immigrants to stay in their own enclaves and not be fully integrated into Dutch society.

There is a lot to agree with in this book. Countries should not allow women to abused and beaten in the name of religion. Crimes like these should not be overlooked in the name of tolerance. However, Hirsi Ali does not convince me that all these issues stem from Islam itself. I thought that in many of her statements you could replace "Islam" with "Fundamentalist Christianity" and they would still be true. She tries to say that Christianity and Judaism are essentially different from Islam, but I can't agree with this at all. I mean, there is no ideal "Islam" or any other religion. They are made of people and people's actions, and that is where change needs to happen. I agree with her that all people need to be able to understand they have individual choices and power, but I don't think a blanket criticism of Islam is necessarily the path to this.

Anyway, this is definitely worth a read as it is very thought provoking and it is important to know some of these stories of the oppressed Muslim women she discusses.

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