Sunday, August 26, 2007

Infidel - Ayaan Hirsi Ali

“Infidel” was written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was born in Somalia and raised in a strict Muslim family. She became a refugee because of the civil war in Somalia, escaped from a forced marriage and was granted asylum in the Netherlands. She fought for the rights of Muslim immigrant women and reform of Islam, and became a member of parliament. Because of her views and efforts, she was disowned by her father and attacked by reactionary Islamists. She made the movie “Submission” on the Muslim suppression of women with Theo van Gogh, who was subsequently murdered by an Islamist because of it.

It is a tremendously compelling book. I simply could not put it down, and have to fight with my two younger daughters to read it (I am sure my eldest would have entered into the fight if she were not at university in the US). Her story helped me to understand a lot more about Islam, its teachings, its treatment of women specifically and human beings in general, and its views towards non-Islamists (infidels).

Here are some quotations from the book:

“Female genital mutilation predates Islam … But in Somalia, where virtually every girl is excised, the practice is always justified in the name of Islam.” … “Sahra told Haweya how awful it was to be married. … Abdallah … trying to tear open the scar between her legs, how much it had hurt.”

(in Saudi Arabia) “They called Haweya and I Abid, which meant slaves.” “because this was the God’s house, all these people were kind. … But as soon as we left the mosque, Saudi Arabia meant intense heat and filth and cruelty. People had their heads cut off in public squares. … Hands were cut off. Men were flogged. Women were stoned.”

“They say women were in the grip of invisible forces that played with their minds and made them switch from one extreme mood to another. That was why Allah had ordained that the testimony of two women is equal that of one man, and also why women should not be allowed to govern or accept public offices”

(In Holland) “The Somali cases were almost always the same, again and again. The husband took all the welfare money, spent it on qat [a plant used as a stimulant], and when the wife hid the money he would beat her until finally the police intervened.” … “They were convinced that by accepting systematic, really merciless abuse, they were serving Allah and earning a place in Heaven.” … “Allah says husbands should beat their wives if they misbehave; it’s in the Quran.”

“This was an infidel country, … Why was it then, so much better run, better led, and made for such better lives than the places we came from?” … “why so many immigrants – so many Muslim immigrants – were violent, on welfare, poor.”

“They went on about Averroes and saving Aristotle, and how Islam discovered the zero, and so on. … So what has happened in Islamic civilization since the year 1200?”

“Between October 2004 and May 2005, eleven Muslim girls were killed by their families in just those tow regions (there are twenty such regions in Holland).” … “She has been raped by her uncle, and now she is pregnant, she will be punished for having sex outside marriage.”

“As Theo cycled down the Linnaeusstraat, … Muhammad Bouyeri … shot Theo several times. … Theo begged, `Can’t we talk about this?` … 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.” … “It opened with In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful … asking if I was prepared to die for my convictions, as he, the letter write, was.”

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