Ayaan Hirsi Ali A Critic Accuses Islam

With the essays in her collection "Ich Klage An" (I Accuse), Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali takes a stand against the chauvinism she sees in Islam. The book will undoubtedly provoke the ire of fundamentalists, above all for the tips she offers to young Muslim women who are looking to run away from strict Muslim households.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

There are any number of critical voices taking on Islam at the moment, but perhaps none is a clear and strident as the voice of the strictly raised, formerly Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In searing strokes, she invokes against Islam, against radicals armed with the Koran, and against the terrorists of the Jihad who kill women to honor Allah. She pillories the enlightened West, too, for forgetting -- in the face of much talk about tolerance -- to stand by downtrodden and oppressed Muslim women.

The 35 year-old from Somalia-born Ali doesn't just have courage, she has the talent of starting uncomfortable political debates in her adopted home of the Netherlands -- and to keep those conversations going. Also a member of the Dutch parliament for the Liberal party, she has transformed herself into a female Salman Rushdie, who appears to be ready to pursue the fight even if it puts her own life in danger.

Now, she's bound her criticism into a provocative new book -- even if she says little that's spectacularly new in it. That's because the book -- translated from the Dutch original "De maagdenkooi" and appearing in Germany on May 18 -- is mostly a collection of already-published compositions and essays by the critic.

A young woman who raises her voice against the male society of Muslims, who defies her family's religion and calls for a battle -- that is more provocation than Jihadists usually have to bear. And Hirsi Ali does not go easy on them, making many radical demands of her own: For instance, that Muslim men who refuse to take on jobs traditionally done by women should no longer be granted social welfare.

For the first time, she also talks about her own genital mutilation, which was performed by her grandmother while her relatively liberal father was away on travel. The author's life-story -- although she managed to escape the laws of the sharia, she nonetheless must still fear deadly revenge -- is what makes this book so special.

One of the book's final chapters is especially likely to spur the hate of the radicals: Here, Ali, who has managed to escape on her own, gives tips on how to flee from slavery. For example to go into hiding in a university town, where rents are cheap, and to avoid areas of town where Muslims -- who could recognize her and inform her family -- are likely to live. Or the advice to take hardly any baggage, trust only few people and to make contact with organizations that help desperate women before fleeing. The book will be published in Turkish on June 29. No release date for an English version has yet been announced.


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