Atanu Dey On India's Development

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was at Harvard’s Kennedy School on May 9th. A brief biography of Ms. Ali from the Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership announcement reads:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (born 13 November 1969 in Mogadishu, Somalia) is a Dutch human rights leader, feminist, and a member of the Dutch Parliament for the liberal party. She is a prominent and often controversial spokesperson, author, film maker and critic of Islamism. Her movie “Submission” on abuse of women in Islam, directly led to the murder of the director Theo Van Gogh in November 2004. A death letter left on the body was addressed to Ms Hirsi Ali.

In 2005 Ms Hirsi Ali was chosen among the world’s 100 most influential people of Time Magazine and Reader’s Digest voted her ‘European of the Year 2006’. Meanwhile, she also receives heavy criticism on her views and approaches for change. Ms Hirsi Ali is under severe and permanent security protection.

She, like Wafa Sultan, is fighting for the emancipation of women in Islamic countries and more generally for reforming Islam. She has a collection of essays called The Caged Virgin, an “Emancipation Proclamation” for women and Islam.

I guess that her life insurance premiums must be sky high. Not just a pretty face, she is articulate and courageous. Here is a short video of an interview of her on Swedish television (I don’t have details on the date of that recording).

There are more videos of Hirsi Ali on YouTube. But before you do that, you must see the Wafa Sultan video — she is unbelievable.

Update (May 16th): There are google videos on Ayaan here.

  • Uday

    Thanks for sharing that video. Both Dr. Wafia Sultan and she are extremely articulate and captivate the listener. They don’t hesitate from stating their views in the most direct manner possible, hence their power. Isn’t it fitting that the leading Muslim voices against myopic and perverted Islamic ‘philosophy’ are both successful and attractive women?

    The words that are unforgettable for me are Dr. Wafa Sultan’s: “They are not people of THE book, they are people of many books. All the useful scientific books you have today are theirs, the fruit of their free and creative thinking”. It would be good if the Christian right in the US realize the applicability of these words to their beliefs too. As an immigrant to the US, I am baffled at how its very people forget why their forefathers headed here from 16th-19th century Europe.

  • http://writepad.blogspot.com Pankaj

    Atanu,

    Thanks for sharing this video. Ms. Ali is far much braver than our entire gang of “Liberals”.

  • little Ram

    he point Ms. Ali makes about the regressive nature of the teaching in fundamental Islam is revealing; I had no idea it was that extreme or that such regressive practices were explicitly sanctioned.

    Couple of traits that seem common to fundamental or radical religionists all over are-

    1. Authority for radical views is derived from ancient texts.

    What we need to realize is that these texts should be open to re-interpretration in the light of new knowledge.

    2. Quoting a historical figure as the ultimate authority.

    If Newton’s theory is subject to revision by Einstein’s and some of Einstein’s beliefs can be challenged by new evidence, I see no reason why we should not engage in healthy debate.

    3. A sense of exclusionism. That is, my is the only way or that all others are lesser beings.

    It seems a very peculiar religious belief that would condemn a large part of humanity to misery because they are not followers!

    4. An active resort to violence.

    More than anything, this violence gives lie to their assertion that they wish to establish the rule of God. By indulging in such acts they ensure they are perpetrating lawlessness and promoting anarchy- really rule by the mighty.

    Lastly, I believe there is some truth in the saying that if there is evil in this world, it is not so much because the world is full of bad men committing evil acts as due to the fact that the vast number of good men choose to remain silent.

  • Pardeshi

    Unfortunately women like Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Wafa Sultan are scarce even in the part of the world where you have freedom of speech ; most of them are discouraged by their own families especially by males elder or younger.I wonder whether these males are blessd with the faculty of critical thinking or they just don’t want to lose the power over others.
    We may wait another couple of centuries before something significant happening in India

  • http://brahmanisone.blogspot.com amar

    Now this happened. It seems she is planning to leave Denmark for US.

  • http://brahmanisone.blogspot.com amar

    Now this happened. Also read the Op-Ed by Ian Baruma

    It seems Ms. Hirshi Ali is planning to leave Denmark for US.

  • Mary

    Reading about Ayaan Hirsi Ali and about Dr. Wafa Sultan has led me to some other names of other heroines:
    Homa Arjmand(f) and Azam Kamguiam (f)
    So we are up to 4 now! And then you can also count a man Ahmed Mansour.

  • Shahryar

    I am currently reading Irshad Manji’s The Trouble with Islam which I recommend to all Indians.

    Check out Irshad Manji’s website: Muslim Refusenik