The next reading selection for our study group is titled Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I will be covering it chapter by chapter as I did with our last selection, and would love it if some of my “regulars” wanted to read along and join in on the ensuing online discussions!
I still have one more chapter to finish on the last book and will be posting my thoughts on it shortly. We meet the first week in September for our final wrap-up on it and will then begin reading Infidel.
Readers with an eye on European politics will recognize Ali as the Somali-born member of the Dutch parliament who faced death threats after collaborating on a film about domestic violence against Muslim women with controversial director Theo van Gogh (who was himself assassinated). Even before then, her attacks on Islamic culture as “brutal, bigoted, [and] fixated on controlling women” had generated much controversy.
In this suspenseful account of her life and her internal struggle with her Muslim faith, she discusses how these views were shaped by her experiences amid the political chaos of Somalia and other African nations, where she was subjected to genital mutilation and later forced into an unwanted marriage. While in transit to her husband in Canada, she decided to seek asylum in the Netherlands, where she marveled at the polite policemen and government bureaucrats. Ali is up-front about having lied about her background in order to obtain her citizenship, which led to further controversy in early 2006, when an immigration official sought to deport her and triggered the collapse of the Dutch coalition government. Apart from feelings of guilt over van Gogh’s death, her voice is forceful and unbowed—like Irshad Manji, she delivers a powerful feminist critique of Islam informed by a genuine understanding of the religion.
This book is currently only available in hard-cover and runs around $20. Most local libraries are willing to order books that are requested, so that might be an option.