Friday, September 12, 2008

Feminism and Religion ~ Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I just wanted to post a quick note of congratulations and support to feminist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who won this year's Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for nonfiction last night in Cleveland, OH. Her appearance at the awards had to be kept a complete secret up until the moment of presentation because she has suffered such persecution--as well as multiple threats on her life--due to her radical, outspoken autobiography, Infidel, published last year.

Born in Somalia, Hirsi Ali fled an arranged marriage when she was 22 and was granted asylum in the Netherlands. She converted from Islam to atheism, and recently became a member of the Dutch Parliament and is an avid activist for women's rights and religious freedom.

In case you haven't heard of her or her book, here's an excerpt...the first page of her introduction:
One November morning in 2004, Theo van Gogh got up to go to work at his film production company in Amsterdam. He took out his old black bicycle and headed down a main road. Waiting in a doorway was a Moroccan man with a handgun and two butcher knives.

As Theo cycled down the Linnaeusstraat, Muhammad Bouyeri approached. He pulled out his gun and shot Theo several times. Theo fell off his bike and lurched across the road, then collapsed. Bouyeri followed. Theo begged, “Can’t we talk about this?" but Bouyeri shot him four more times. Then he took out one of his butcher knives and sawed into Theo’s throat. With the other knife, he stabbed a five-page letter onto Theo’s chest.

The letter was addressed to me.

Two months before, Theo and I had made a short film together. We called is Submission, Part 1. I intended one day to make Part 2. (Theo warned me that he would work on Part 2 only if I accepted some humor in it!) Part 1 was about defiance—about Muslim women who shift from total submission to God to a dialogue with their deity. They pray, but instead of casting down their eyes, these women look up, at Allah, with the words of the Quran tattooed on their skin. They tell Him honestly that if submission to Him brings them so much misery, and He remains silent, they may stop submitting.

There is the woman who is flogged for committing adultery; another who is given in marriage to a man she loathes; another who is beaten by her husband on a regular basis; and another who is shunned by her father when he learns that his brother raped her. Each abuse is justified by the perpetrators in the name of God, citing the Quran versus now written on the bodies of the women. These women stand for hundreds of thousands of Muslim women around the world.

And if you still need reasons to check out the book for yourself, here are a few book reviews:

"The Fight for Muslim Women" | by Anne Applebaum

"No Rest for a Feminist Fighting Radical Islam" | by William Grimes

Against Submission | by Ian Burma

1 comment:

M.R.Ambrose said...

Ohhh...I've heard of this book. Lots of people have recommended it to me. I am definitely going to read it very soon.
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