Ayaan Hirsi Ali (13 November 1969) is a Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, author, scholar and former politician. She received international attention as a critic of Islam and advocate for the rights and self-determination of Muslim women, actively opposing forced marriage, honor violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation.
In 2003, Hirsi Ali was elected a member of the House of Representatives, the lower house of the States General of the Netherlands, representing the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). A political crisis related to the validity of her Dutch citizenship—namely the accusation that she had lied on her application for political asylum—led to her resignation from parliament, and indirectly to the fall of the second Balkenende cabinet in 2006.
Hirsi Ali is a former Muslim who rejected the faith and became an atheist, has been a vocal critic of Islam. In 2004, she collaborated on a short movie with Theo van Gogh, entitled Submission, a film depicting oppression of women under fundamentalist Islamic law, critical of the Islamic canon itself. The film led to controversy and death threats. Van Gogh was then murdered several days after the film’s release by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Moroccan-Dutch Islamic terrorist. Hirsi Ali maintains that “Islam is part religion, and part a political-military doctrine, the part that is a political doctrine contains a world view, a system of laws and a moral code that is totally incompatible with our constitution, our laws, and our way of life.”
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