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Ali, Ayaan Hirsi (1969- )

Writer and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somaliaon November 13, 1969.  Her father, Hirsi Magan Isse, was a prominent Somali intellectual andrevolutionary leader.  As a child, Alihad to move with her family to Saudi Arabia,Ethiopia, and Kenya, due topolitical turmoil in her own country and her fathers politicalbackground.  Ali was educated in Kenya at the MuslimGirls Secondary School where she was exposed to Islamic scholarship andreligious life.  She was also exposed toWestern culture and values in Kenyaand began to lament what she saw as the rise of radicalized Islamic traditionsimported from Saudi Arabiainto East Africa.  Ali asked for political asylum in TheNetherlands in 1992, claiming a forced marriage.  Although the story of her asylum is shroudedin controversy, Ali worked in a variety of social service and other jobs whilestudying Western political and social theory. She also studied at Leiden University where she earned her MA degree inPolitical Science in 2000 and went on to work as a Researcher atthe Wiardi Beckman Foundation in Amsterdamfrom 2001 to 2002. 

Alis growing disenchantment with Islam as well asher exposure to Western thinkers caused her to become an atheist and virulentcritic of the religion.  She served as amember of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006 and worked actively tointegrate non-Western immigrants into Dutch society.  In 2004, she collaborated with Dutchfilmmaker Theo van Gogh on the film Submission,which portrayed the oppression of women in conservative Muslim immigrantsocieties.  Van Gogh was assassinated bya Muslim religious extremist and Ali was forced into hiding as a result of thefilm.  Controversy arose as to how shereceived her citizenship and false statements which may have been made in theprocess as well as the vast resources the Dutch state had to spend to protecther. 

Her books include the controversial memoir Infidel (2007) and The Caged Virgin (2006) about the role of the individual in Islamicsociety, the question of Westernization, and

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