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Infidel SmallAyaan Hirsi Ali’s wonderful memoir is a dispassionate recollection of her painful childhood and teen years, and a passionate recollection of her subsequent journey to intellectual freedom. Her early life in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya was an inside look into the harsh life of Islamic society. From the lack of a proper education and frequent beatings to an arranged marriage and an appalling circumcision, Ayaan has recounted the horrors is Islam more objectively and honestly than one would expect.

The story of her early life, while powerful, is told with remarkable restraint. That in itself is an achievement. But I was more inspired by her courageous journey to Holland, how she broke free from the constraints of her culture and religion, and discovered the joy of free thinking.

Even more striking was that she didn’t stop with gaining her own freedom–she also spoke out against the barbarity of Islam towards millions of other women. This earned her a multitude of death threats, after which she couldn’t step outside her home without a security detail.

She had enemies other than Muslim men, however. She was also criticized by some citizens of Holland that believed all religious beliefs are equal and deserve respect. And although her book is getting very positive reviews, there are some that resent her critique of Islam. Many liberals may feel it impolitic to criticize religion, but they apparently have no reservations about unleashing their pens against a freethinker. I don’t think it will bother Ayaan too much, though. After all, she relishes a good debate. It is much preferred to the death threats.

Ayaan now lives in the United States and works at the American Enterprise Institute. I’m thankful that someone like Ayaan is around to keep the ideologues honest, and I’m glad that she’s in America.

Support Ayaan Hirsi Ali by purchasing a copy of Infidel (and pick up a copy for a friend while you’re at it).

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