by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The memoirs of a woman who was raised as a Muslim in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya and who escaped to Holland after her father forced her to marry a stranger from Canada. She has a talent for languages and is a good writer. She learned Somali, Swahili, and English by her teen years. Later she learned Dutch and earned a living in Holland translating between Dutch and Somali speakers. Her life story demonstrates what an awful religion Islam is, especially for girls. Women in Islam are slaves of their fathers until they marry and become slaves of their husbands who are free to rape and beat them whenever they feel like it. She had her genitals mutilated and sewn shut as a teenager per the custom in Somalia. Women in Muslim countries who dare to walk outside without being accompanied by a man are considered to be whores, and whores are considered to be fair game for rape and violent assault.

She grew up trying to be a good Muslim. She prayed and observed the dress codes and other requirements of strict Islam until she fled to Holland and got exposed to Western ideas and earned a college degree in political science. Then she became and advocate for the rights of Muslim women and was elected to the Dutch Parliament.

Her life has been threatened and she has had to have bodyguards ever since she denounced the barbaric practices of Islam.

She claims to be the dummy of her family compared to her older brother and her younger sister. It is fascinating to me that a woman who started life in a stone-age culture in an oppressive family could rise to the top intellectual levels of advanced Western societies and write such an insightful and eloquent autobiography.

The book presents a far less rosy picture of Somali culture than Michael van Notten did in his book on the law of the Somalis.

Year Read: 2011

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