February Book Club Meeting: "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

HFSD is continuing the book club with a recent bestseller that is a damning attack on Islam and in particular, how Islam oppresses women.  Yes, we will meet on March 1st, but we'll consider this our February meeting since February is a short month.

One of today’s most admired and controversial political figures,  author Ayaan Hirsi Ali burst into international headlines following the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamist who threatened that she would be next. She made headlines again when she was stripped of her citizenship and resigned from the Dutch Parliament.

Infidel shows the coming of age of this distinguished political superstar and champion of free speech as well as the development of her secular beliefs, iron will, and extraordinary determination to fight injustice. Raised in a strict Muslim family, Hirsi Ali survived civil war, female mutilation, brutal beatings, adolescence as a devout believer during the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and life in four troubled, unstable countries ruled largely by despots. She escaped from a forced marriage and sought asylum in the Netherlands, where she earned a college degree in political science, tried to help her tragically depressed sister adjust to the West, and fought for the rights of Muslim women and the reform of Islam as a member of Parliament. Under constant threat, demonized by reactionary Islamists and politicians, disowned by her father, and expelled from family and clan, she refuses to be silenced.

Ultimately a celebration of triumph over adversity, Hirsi Ali’s story tells how a bright little girl evolves out of dutiful obedience to become an outspoken, pioneering freedom fighter and atheist. As Western governments struggle to balance democratic ideals with religious pressures, no other book could be more timely or more significant.

About Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (born 13 November 1969) is a Somali-born American (formerly Dutch) feminist and atheist activist, writer and politician who is known for her views critical of female genital mutilation and Islam.  She wrote the screenplay for Theo van Gogh's movie Submission, after which she and the director both received death threats, and the director was assassinated. The daughter of the Somali politician and opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse, she is a founder of the women's rights organization The AHA Foundation.

When she was eight, Hirsi Ali's family left Somalia for Saudi Arabia, then Ethiopia, and eventually settled in Kenya. She sought and obtained political asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, under circumstances that later became the center of a political controversy.  In 2003, she was elected a member of the House of Representatives (the lower house of the Dutch parliament), representing the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). A political crisis surrounding the potential stripping of her Dutch citizenship led to her resignation from the parliament, and led indirectly to the fall of the second Balkenende cabinet in 2006.

In 2005, Hirsi Ali was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She has also received several awards, including a free speech award from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the Swedish Liberal Party's Democracy Prize, and the Moral Courage Award for commitment to conflict resolution, ethics, and world citizenship. In 2006, she published a memoir. The English translation (2007) is titled Infidel

As of 2013 Hirsi Ali is a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a member of the The Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center, and lives in the United States. She is married to British historian and public commentator Niall Ferguson and became a naturalized citizen of the United States on April 25, 2013.

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  • donna

    I am so happy to be back among great minds. I love conversation that strikes a chord with reason

    March 2, 2014

    • Wilfredo P.

      It was good to see you again, Donna. I appreciated your insights on "Infidel." I hope you can become a regular participant at the book club.

      March 3, 2014

    • donna

      Thank You Alfredo,I do look forward to the next book club meeting

      March 5, 2014

  • Wilfredo P.

    Thanks for everyone who attended this discussion of an excellent book. We did the best we could under the circumstances. Sorry about the noise. When I checked out Adams Avenue Grill on a Saturday morning a few months ago, it was virtually empty! I guess it's gotten a lot more popular since then!

    Hirsi Ali's experience shows what happens when people who have been indoctrinated with religion are put in circumstances where they are allowed to LEARN and THINK. Of course, religions don't want people to do this. And they especially don't want WOMEN to learn and think! If more women would come to the realization that the rules of religion, including the fairy tale books used by religion, were written by men in part to control women, more women would come to their senses about religion and this would be a better world.

    1 · March 2, 2014

  • Ed S.

    Great discussion but hard to hear. The book was an excellent choice.

    March 1, 2014

  • Madeline

    Technically, I'm not reading it. I'm cheating and listening to it through audible on my phone through my bluetooth. It'll be good to see you again, W. :-)

    February 26, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am reading the Koran this week and it reflects a people trying to convince the world of their superiority while being obsessed with judgement. It is an extremely punitive religion. Praise be to the cosmos Hirsi Ali is here with us.

    1 · February 16, 2014

    • Wilfredo P.

      Hmm, sounds just like the Bible and the Book of Mormon, two other fairy tale books. Praise be to reason and science!

      February 19, 2014

  • Ed S.

    A great book - very moving and very clear about the danger from Islam.

    February 16, 2014

  • Debbie A.

    This is a fantastic book. I suggest you start reading or listening now... whether or not you can attend the book club gathering. Ali's books have helped me to understand how societies are changed, for the better and for the worse, by accommodating the values of religious minorities.

    1 · February 3, 2014

  • Janice

    Great book!

    1 · January 26, 2014

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