The courage to reject Islam

Charles Moore:

In a way, this book is the opposite of Barack Obama's famous memoir Dreams from My Father. The future President of the United States wrote of how he had tried to understand all of the non-American bits of his background, especially the Kenyan family of his father. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, on the other hand, is an African brought up in Africa. She comes from Somalia, and has also lived in Ethiopia and Kenya. Her fame derives from the fact that she boldly and absolutely rejected the Muslim faith in which she grew up. She sought asylum in Holland and became, for a time, a politician there. She collaborated with Theo Van Gogh, who was later murdered by an Islamist fanatic, on a film called Submission, about Islam's oppression of women.

For her apostasy, a capital offence in the eyes of all the schools of Islamic law, she is threatened with death. She has to have personal protection at all times. Now she lives in the United States, and this book, which follows her earlier account of her life, Infidel, is, among other things, an examination of the virtues of her adopted country and the Western way of life which she has enthusiastically embraced. Obama's book, though not anti-American, was a journey away from his country. Ayaan Hirsi Ali's direction of travel is the other way.

Since we tend to take the virtues of the West for granted, it is moving to find them so enthusiastically identified by an outsider. One thing which enrages her about her own Somali Muslim culture is its utter dependence on clan. Clan loyalties in that culture, she says, are the only social reality, and so people feel under no obligation to be honest or kind to those outside the clan, or to respect the rule of law or political institutions.

In the West, however, the social order – far from being "broken", as we tend to see it – is strong. People go to great efforts, says the author, to help strangers, debate with one another without violence and ensure that public and commercial services do their job properly. "The infidel," she says, "insists on honesty and trust", whereas Muslim societies are riddled with suspicion and survive by "taqqiya – pretending to be something you are not".

We in the West tend to envy Africa for its greater sense of family, but Ayaan Hirsi Ali launches into a paean of praise for American marriage. She thinks that its emphasis on the love between man and woman who have chosen each other freely and the focus on the children they bear is much more healthy than the web of obligations to endless useless cousins in the world from which she has escaped.

She argues that in our freedom, and in our more responsible and restrained attitudes to sex, money and violence, we are superior to the Islamic world. In her view, the Muslim obsession with a woman's virginity is not a mark of modesty and decency, but of ownership and the abuse of power. It helps to feed a male identity which she tellingly describes, referring to her brother, as both "fragile and grandiose".


She is a remarkable woman. She chastises the feminist who do not speak out about the abuses of Islamic culture such as the pedophile marriages and the beating of girls who try to escape as described in a post below. We could use more such brave women who are critical of the abuses of followers of Islam.


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