Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been called the best-known feminist intellectual ever to come out of Africa. In the West, however, the controversial Somalian activist has often been attacked for her powerful denunciations of radical Islam and Sharia law.
Her biography is shocking. She survived genital mutilation, fled Africa and became a member of the Dutch Parliament. She collaborated with Theo van Gogh on his film Submission, which slammed the treatment of women in Islam and led to the filmmaker’s assassination and a fatwa against her. In 2014, after a campaign denouncing her, Brandeis University revoked its honorary degree and invitation to speak.
Undeterred, she wrote the bestsellers Nomad, Infidel, Heretic and The Caged Virgin, and this year’s monograph The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It (Hoover Institution Press). A Dutch and American citizen, she started the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation in New York to further her work.
Hirsi Ali is also one of the Hoover Institution’s newest fellows, when she isn’t on the road speaking and giving media interviews. She spoke with Cynthia Haven for Stanford.
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