INFIDEL

Anne Applebaum:

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For those who haven't encountered her name yet, suffice it to say that Hirsi Ali is a European of African descent with an almost American rags-to-riches life story. As a young woman, she escaped from her Somali family while en route to an arranged marriage in Canada, made her way to Holland, learned Dutch, attended college and eventually won a seat in the Dutch parliament. Along the way, she also made an intellectual journey -- beautifully described in her new book, "Infidel"-- from tribal Somalia, through fundamentalism, and into Western liberalism. After Sept. 11, 2001, horrified by some of the things Osama bin Laden was saying, she reached for the Koran to confirm a hunch: "I hated to do it," she wrote, "because I knew that I would find bin Laden's quotations in there."

Partly as a result she lost her faith, concluding that the Koran spreads a culture that is "brutal, bigoted, fixated on controlling women, and harsh in war," and that should not be tolerated by European liberals. The conclusion led her into a series of controversies -- and to the murder of a Dutch filmmaker with whom she had co-produced a film about the mistreatment of Muslim women. The murderer was the son of Moroccan immigrants, born in Holland; he pinned a letter threatening Hirsi Ali onto his victim's chest. Ultimately, she left Holland for Washington, where she remains, ensconced at the American Enterprise Institute.

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Curiously, what seems to rankle Europeans most is the enthusiasm with which Hirsi Ali has adopted their own secularism and the fervor with which she has embraced their own Western values. Though this continent's intellectuals routinely disparage the pope as an irrelevant dinosaur, Hirsi Ali's rejection of religion in favor of reason, intellect and emancipation seems to make everyone nervous. Typical is the British feminist who complained that not only does Hirsi Ali paint "the whole of the Islamic world with one black brush," she also "paints the whole of the Western world with rosy tints," which is, of course, far more objectionable.

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She exposes the ugly side of the multi culti left and the ugly side of Islam. Both subjects have been seriously suppressed in Europe and by the left on campuses in this country. What is really scary for both groups is that this black woman who refuses to stay on their plantations is right.

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