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on 7 April 2013
Does freedom of speech today counter-command ancient texts? Of course it must. Who could possibly object to us commenting on Confucius or Plato or Babylonian gods?

At the beginning of the day isn't it blasphemous to assume that Allah needs any human help to run the universe? Let Ayaan Hirsi Ali tell the truth as she knows it. She is part of the uprising of women, who as half of humanity deserve to be free, so that we can all move forward together. She is brave and brilliant. She confronts prejudice, fear and abuse and is a shining example of why our world is slowly and steadily taking steps towards an understanding of freedom and truth.

Keep writing for us Ayaan. You are setting the future free.
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on 14 June 2014
Writer addresses many aspects of Islamic treatment of women which she believes need to be addressed. I think she is right, particularly with regard to female genital mutilation. She has been criticised because Islamists in England say it is mostly a Somali habit and certainly that country has the foulness of fgm deeply embedded in its culture. But it also happens in Egypt and other Muslim countries and I would take Islamic culture/religion far more seriously if what are called moderate Muslims would themselves speak out against it. I am not sure that I could ever take any religion/culture seriously which allows a man to beat his wife.
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on 3 October 2009
It is rare for me to read a book in one go, even when time allows. This remarkable book proved an exception. Its structure is a little disjointed, but her message gets to the core of the problem with Islam, and in particular, the tragic problems it creates for women.

And what is the core problem that Ayaan Hirsi Ali identifies? It is not the corruption, by extremists and fundamentalists, of a noble religion of love and peace. We heard alot of that woolly talk after 9/11. The problem is with Mahomet himself. Even Mahomet would not be a problem were his teachings recognised for what they are. They are the notions of a 7th century man from a violent, tribal and male dominated society. His ideas, as far as we can gather them from the Koran and Hadiths, may have been a great improvement on what had preceded them. In the 21st century, indeed for several centuries now, adherence to his ideas has been a great hindrance, especially to women. It is centuries since Islam was in the vanguard of scientific and social progress. This author points out how the Islamic world is retarded by the very creed it holds so dear.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes the terrible results of the abuse of Muslim women in her adopted country of the Netherlands. Victims of female circumcision, marital violence and rape are certainly not confined to Islamic communities. The creed, however, fashioned by and for men, and frozen by its rigid adherence to obsolete texts, inevitably condones and encourages such abuse.

Although most of the case studies are Dutch, many of her warnings about the dangers of multiculturalism can be applied in the UK too. As her book went to press there was a misguided bill, in progress through Parliament, which would have outlawed expressions of religious hatred. Fortunately for our traditions of free speech the bill failed and we are still free to speak out against ideas and practices which we find offensive.

A great read. I sincerely hope it will do its bit to challenge our attitudes, and to make us value more our hard won freedoms.
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on 2 February 2013
I think this should be on the curriculum in schools and everyone else should read it. It is so shocking, moving and uplifting. I want to read it again already.
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on 20 July 2009
A fascinating insight into the lives of Muslim women from an intelligent woman campaigning for human rights for women who have none - an important read for western liberal society. Beautifully written.
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on 22 July 2006
Ayaan Ali skillfully combines the poignant stories of muslim women's lives together with a compassionate and convincing exploration of the influences on those who are driven to treat women inhumanely. She weaves personal experiences and studies of politics, sociology and philosophy to create a book which encompasses both the individual and the wider picture.

She is clear and constructive in voicing her vision for the world and also how the reader, Muslim or non-Muslim can exert a positive influence.

The style is brisk and accessible to all.

I was left with admiration for this woman and a desire to support the freedoms and principles which we take for granted.
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In this perceptive work, Ayaan Hirsi Ali explores a major problem of our times with admirable fluency and erudition. In the preface she points out the similarity in attitude towards the Soviets by leftists then and Islamic culture now by the adherents of multiculturalism. Because of the victim culture, those intellectuals refuse to criticize oppressive practices as Muslims are perceived to be victims of the West. For the same reason, Israel is fiercely condemned because it belongs to the West while the Palestinians get a free pass. She considers this wrongheaded and racism in its purest form, the idea of the "other" that must be shielded at all costs.

She asks the advocates of the multicultural society to acquaint themselves with the suffering of women who are treated as chattels. The notion of "group rights" are detrimental to Muslim women, and without emancipation, the socially disadvantageous position of Muslims will persist. She laments the fact that Muslim women are not listened to and calls for self-examination in the culture. Hirsi Ali also deals with the clash of cultures in Europe and examines the triangles of power in the Muslim world itself: the triangle of the strong leader, the clergy and the army, and the triangle of apathy, fundamentalism and refugees/emigration.

The author provides a brief history of her early childhood in Somalia and her personal emancipation when she emigrated to the Netherlands and explains why she had to leave Holland for the USA. There is also an interview with prominent Canadian Muslim reformer Irshad Manji, a chapter on genital mutilation and 10 tips for Muslim women who wish to leave their oppressive circumstances. A full transcript of the documentary film Submission is included, the movie that led to the death of Theo van Gogh. Hirsi Ali claims that instead of empowering Muslim students through research and training, European universities have become activist centers to further the Palestinian cause.

She considers Muslims in Europe and around the world to fall into three broad categories: the terrorists and the fundamentalists that assist them, the tiny group of reformers that embraces the open society and the large number of undecideds who are caught in a mental vise, the painful contradiction between the harsh tenets of an intolerant religion and the values of the open society. She believes that the first victims of Muhammad are the minds of Muslims themselves as they exist in a situation of cognitive dissonance. Western cultural relativists flinch from criticism of Muhammad for fear of offence, preventing western Muslims from reviewing their own moral values.

This insightful work provides first-hand experience and knowledge of the particular worldview and serves as an appeal for clear thinking, enlightenment and individual liberation. Hirsi Ali nails it when she shows how various evils result from a belief based on fear. Although not flawless, The Caged Virgin is a torch of courage and reason in the darkness of oppression and brainwashing. The book concludes with bibliographic notes and an index. I also recommend Now They Call Me Infidel by Nonie Darwish, Because They Hate by Brigitte Gabriel, Menace In Europe by Claire Berlinski, While Europe Slept by Bruce Bawer and The Force Of Reason by the late Orianna Fallaci.
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on 26 February 2015
Having been raised in the same Islam that Hirsi Ali describes, I can vouch, as another woman, that this book is very accurate. It may not read as a sociological study as some of the native comments point to but I don't think that was what she was after. All she is trying to do is start a debate on Islam and for this she gets what? death threats? Her friend is nearly beheaded in the streets of a European country and she is placed under protection? How is that a peaceful religion? The questions she raises is why does Islam ignore this sort of hatred amongst some Muslims? Can it really be the right religion when women are treated so badly? Worse, can it be a peaceful religion if women are indoctrinated to believe their worth is below that of a man? This book is an absolute must read, She has had some personal traumas which could cloud her arguments but I don't think they do particularly when you understand that those atrocities committed against her were committed by other Muslims. A must read.
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on 21 March 2009
Infidel: My LifeInfidel
Vital and an urgent read, full of detail and well reasoned arguement but not as entertaining as her Infidel. If you want to question Islam and the possible outcomes of our attitudes to multiculturism, you should read this book.
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on 21 April 2007
The title and cover of this book would lead one to expect a fairly hyperbolic read instead of the even-toned and thorough account of Islam, its failings to its contemporary adherents and its comparative failings in the face of western philosophies-of-faith: religion and multiculturalism, for instance. As with Ayaan Hirsi Ali's 'Infidel', much emphasis is placed on the west's wilful misunderstanding of Islam and its dominance over all aspects of a Muslim's life--especially women's.

It was cited that there are non-observant Muslims and Muslims of a reformist mind. A French women's group, for example. Whilst this is encouraging, it does beg the question: since one is not born a Muslim, would it not be simpler to encourage these Muslims to abandon Islam altogether. After all, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has successfully done so. Nothing reforms a philosophy-of-faith faster than a dwindling membership. This would only require western governments to properly defend those who have chosen to, as is their right in the west, from the Islamist hardliners who would threaten them with death.
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