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Customer Review

56 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The open society and its enemies, 22 Jun. 2007
This review is from: The Caged Virgin: A Muslim Woman's Cry for Reason (Paperback)
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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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Nov 2007 06:11:56 GMT
R Customer says:
Fantastic Review. Thank you especially for the other recommendations. It is an important book and I am pleased to see that you recognize that, as with all books, it is not flawless. (Needless to say, the author does not claim divine authorship and thus one would not expect it to be flawless!)
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