Hilary's Reviews > Infidel

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
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Sep 02, 08

Recommended to Hilary by: Book Club Girls!
Read in September, 2008

Overall, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best book ever, 1 being i hated it... I would give it a 2, meaning it was so-so. I didn't hate the book, because I have total utter respect for what this woman went through, and then having the courage to write about it and as a result live a life of constant threats is very admirable. Initially I felt like the book was pretty interesting, hearing about her childhood and life in Mogadishu, Saudi Arabia, etc. I really liked her father at first - he seemed to have some western ideals - I think I had a love-hate relationship with him in the end. At first the way she described him seemed as though he was pretty practical ("my girls will not be excised"), but then he still had his beliefs and still did things like the arranged marriage, etc. I was mortified at the excisions - I still cannot get over that stuff like that goes on! Those poor, oppressed people!! That was a very hard section to read, as I'm sure most of you agreed. Shortly after that story, then I started to have to force myself to read it... it did get somewhat more interesting after the pictures. I really thought her perspective on 9/11 was surprising. I was in shock, yet felt a sense of gladness, at her reaction to "Please Allah don't let it be a muslim". How she was able to sense that one of her people would go to this measure - I think most Americans (or most that I knew) would not know enough about the culture to make that judgment back when it happened. Either way, I liked what she said about immigration, and how it is not racist to almost force another group to adapt to rules and laws, and not just look the other way for fear of being called racist, or violating people's rights. I know she said it much better than I just did, but I liked that observation. Still, I try to put myself in their (dutch muslim's) shoes and think "How would I feel if they tried to tell me that I could not celebrate Christmas or pick my husband" or stuff like that, well of course I would be pissed. But even so, we as Christians, Jews, Atheists, (and possibly Hindus and Buddhists - altho I don't know enough about those religions to make the call), do not treat our own women like Muslims do. Who am I as a Christian to judge their way of life? I really should not, because that is what my God does not want me to do. The Muslim God sounds like his follower's should lead a life of peace and harmony just as Christians, etc do, yet those are the countries battling wars left and right because of their religious beliefs. Doesn't make sense.

Either way, she made some good solid arguments about the Muslim faith. Again, overall I didn't love the book, but I didn't hate it either.
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message 1: by Lys (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lys The muslim god and the christian god are the same: Allah is just God in Arabic.
I personally donèt believe the violence is due to religion but to culture. Never forget that Christian history is very bloody as well (the crusades, les jesuites, bloody mary, ect.)


message 2: by Deena (last edited Aug 03, 2010 08:35AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Deena Now, I’m no fan of religion – of any kind. But Hirsi Ali’s simultaneous condemnation of Islam and obvious admiration of Christianity was disturbing. As with any religion or ideology, it’s how it’s practised that impacts on people’s lives and on society.

Many of Hirsi Ali’s criticisms of Islam could be applied to fundamentalist Christianity: unwavering adherence to the Bible and the control of women’s sexuality. Even FGM has a western parallel in the state-sanctioned, legal, non-consensual mutilation of intersex children’s genitals to force them to conform to a male/female sex binary – something that rarely warrants an outcry in mainstream media or from feminist activists. If Christian fundamentalists such as Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church had their way, our society would look very different in terms of women’s and queer rights, to name just two.

Of course in no way am I saying that we should not pay attention to and speak out against the abuses endured by so many women and girls in the Muslim world. Nor am I saying we should not be critical of radical, fundamentalist Islam – as Mona Siddiqui points out in her review of Nomad in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, there are many Muslims who fear radical Islam. But vilifying an entire religion or people who follow that religion is not the way to create a harmonious society – as history as shown time and again.

The irony is that while Hirsi Ali is (rightly) applauded for her courage in fighting for and finding personal freedom, she now denies others such rights. In unleashing her wrath on Islamic fundamentalism, she has (perhaps unwittingly) become a fundamentalist herself.

It doesn’t help that she has achieved celebrity status, because once a person reaches a certain level of fame for their ideas, they are then invested in sticking with them for their own economic survival. It’s a rare academic, writer or thinker who is willing to take the risk of losing their career and/or income by doing an about-turn.

So, perhaps it’s down to publishers to champion other writers with as much vigour as they do Hirsi Ali; to publish and promote the hell out of the work of Muslim feminists working on the ground in their local communities to educate and effect change; to bring the female activists such as those featured in Coleman’s book to international writers’ festivals and posh venues like the Sydney Opera House.

I’d certainly buy a ticket. What about you?

from http://www.thescavenger.net/feminism-...


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