Listening to Ayaan Hirsi Ali speak a couple of years ago, it was easy to be impressed by her courage, iron will, clarity, intellect, and charisma; which made the purchase of her autobiography an automatic reaction to its publication. Hirsi Ali’s tale of her life so far in Infidel: My Life (Free Press, Toronto, 2007) is a compelling narrative from a first encounter with her Grandmother (a tough-minded rural nomadic Somali) to her departure from the Netherlands to the US.
Hirsi Ali arrived in the Netherlands as a refugee and became an MP and a courageous champion of free speech… she has something to teach all of us. Her insights into an Islamic upbringing are damning – she lived in four different Muslim societies and is still not reconciled to relatives who might want to kill her for her ‘disgrace’; her view of the freedoms and rights we take for granted are exhilarating and a strong affirmation of the worth of our society. It is also striking to see an outside perspective of such small things as buses that stick to schedules, people who don’t automatically heave their trash into the street, and bureaucrats who work without having to be bribed.