Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Hirsi Ali in 2016 Ayaan Hirsi Ali (; ; Somali: ''Ayaan Xirsi Cali'':'' Ayān Ḥirsī 'Alī'' / ALA-LC: ''Ayān Ḥirsī 'Alī''}} 13 November 1969) is a Somali-born, Dutch-American writer, activist and former politician. She is a critic of Islam and advocate for the rights and self-determination of Muslim women, opposing forced marriage, honour killing, child marriage, and female genital mutilation.

At the age of five, following local traditions in Somalia, Ali underwent female genital mutilation. Her family moved across various countries in African and the Middle East, but 23, she received political asylum in the Netherlands, gaining Dutch citizenship five years later. In her early 30s, Hirsi Ali had renounced the Islamic faith of her childhood, began identifying as an atheist, and become involved in Dutch centre-right politics, joining the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).

In 2003, Ali was elected to the lower house of the States General of the Netherlands. While serving in parliament, she collaborated on a short film with Theo van Gogh, titled ''Submission'', which depicted the oppression of women under fundamentalist Islamic law, and was critical of the Muslim canon itself. The film led to death threats, and Van Gogh was murdered several days after the film's release by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Moroccan-Dutch Islamic terrorist, driving Hirsi Ali into hiding.

At this time she became more outspoken as a critic of the Muslim faith, and by 2005, Hirsi Ali was named by ''Time'' magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Her outspoken criticism of Islam made her a controversial figure in Dutch politics and, following a political crisis related to the validity of her Dutch citizenship, she left the Parliament and, ultimately, the Netherlands.

Moving to the United States, Ali established her as a writer, activist and public intellectual. Her books ''Infidel'' (2007) ''Nomad'' (2010) and ''Heretic'' (2015) became bestsellers. At this time, Ali seemed to be calling for reformation of Islam by countering Islamism and supporting reformist Muslims.

In the United States, Ali has founded an organisation for the defense of women's rights, the AHA Foundation. She has taken roles at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the American Enterprise Institute, and at Harvard Kennedy School as a senior fellow at the Future of Democracy Project . Since 2021, she has served as a columnist for ''UnHerd'', a British online magazine and, since 2022, has hosted''The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast''.

Ali had been a central figure in New Atheism since its beginnings. She was strongly associated with the movement, along with Christopher Hitchens, who regarded Ali as "the most important public intellectual probably ever to come out of Africa." Writing in a a column in November of 2023 however, Ali announced her conversion to the Christian faith.

She has received several awards, including a free speech award from the Danish newspaper ''Jyllands-Posten'', the Swedish Liberal Party's Democracy Prize, and the Moral Courage Award for commitment to conflict resolution, ethics, and world citizenship. Critics have accused Ali of being Islamophobic or neo-orientalist and question her scholarly credentials "to speak authoritatively about Islam and the Arab world", saying she promotes the notion of a Western "civilizing mission". Ali is married to Scottish-American historian Niall Ferguson, the couple raising their sons in the United States, where she became a citizen in 2013. Provided by Wikipedia

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