The Infidel Speaks
In 1989, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali Muslim, supported the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, but on moving to Europe her views changed and she turned against Islam. Two years ago she fled Holland after the brutal murder of her artistic collaborator Theo van Gogh. Who is this fierce critic who lives under the constant threat of death? Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not the only critic of Islam who lives with round-the-clock protection.
But surely none wears their endangered status with greater style. The Dutch Somali human-rights campaigner looks like a fashion model and talks like a public intellectual.
Tall and slender with rod-straight posture and a schoolgirl smile, she is a thinker of stunning clarity, able to express ideas in her third language with a precision that very few could achieve in their first. This combination of elegance and eloquence would be impressive in any circumstances. Under threat of death, it is nothing short of incredible.
A little over two years ago, a second-generation Dutch Moroccan by the name of Mohammed Bouyeri sent a letter to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Aside from the destruction of Holland and Europe, Bouyeri called for the death of Hirsi Ali, whom he described as a ‘fundamentalist unbeliever’ and a ‘soldier of evil’.
His macabre method of delivering the correspondence was to impale the note in the chest of the filmmaker and outspoken maverick, Theo van Gogh, having already shot him eight times and cut his throat through to the spine.
She arrived in the Netherlands as an asylum seeker and became a fiery critic of both multiculturalism and her own religion, Islam. Then last November the director of a film she wrote about the subjugation of Muslim women was killed, sparking a crisis over the country’s attitudes to immigration. In her first British interview since the murder, Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks to Alexander Linklater.
The infidel speaks : Q&A with Ayaan Hirsi Ali
To her admirers, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a maverick, bravely defying the Netherlands’ political correctness to address Europe’s growing cultural rifts. To detractors, she’s a charismatic bomb-thrower with as little regard for her adopted nation’s safety as for her own.
Infidel (Ayaan Hirsi Ali)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her astonishing life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, to her intellectual awakening and activism in the Netherlands, and her current life under armed guard in the West.