Ayaan Hirsi Ali
It was Friday, July 24, 1992, when I stepped on the train. Every year I think of it. I see it as my real birthday: the birth of me as a person, making decisions about my life on my own. (p. 188)
This fascinating memoir recounts Ali's life story and her journey from a devout Muslim childhood to an adulthood as a controversial political leader in the Netherlands. Ali is unflinchingly candid about her childhood experiences as a refugee in Kenya, her family relationships, and her intense faith. As she approached adulthood she began to question the society in which she was raised, and the tenets of Muslim living, particularly the associated oppression of women. She risked all she held dear for her own independence.
The strength which enabled Ali to strike out on her own carried her from refugee centers to independent living and, eventually, to membership in the Dutch Parliament. She is an activist for women's rights, particularly in the Muslim community: I decided that if I were to become a member of the Dutch Parliament, it would become my holy mission to have these statistics registered. I wanted someone, somewhere, to take note every time a man in Holland murdered his child simply because she had a boyfriend. I wanted someone to register domestic violence by ethnic background ... and to investigate the number of excisions of little girls that took place every year on Dutch kitchen tables. ... The excuse that nobody knew would be removed. (p. 296)
Her candor has caused considerable controversy and sparked acts of extreme violence. She has remained strong through it all. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an amazing woman who is sure to have a continued impact on the world.
My original review can be found here.