Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali (born Ayaan Hirsi Magan) is a Dutch feminist, political speaker, and author of several books. Time magazine named her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005.

Literary works

She has written an autobiography, Infidel in which she recounts her life story and how she ceased believing in Islam and became an atheist, a set of essays entitled The Caged Virgin, further discussing the role of women in Islam, and a recent book Nomad in which she further recounts her life story and discusses how best to address the difficulty facing Western communities in which Muslim refugees have settled.

Personal Life

Born in 1969 in Somalia, the second of three children born to the second wife of Hirsi Magan Isse, a Somalian leader known for his organized opposition to Siad Barre, she was raised there and with her mother and two siblings (a sister and brother) resided for a time in several other countries, most notably Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya, before fleeing to the Netherlands in order to escape an arranged marriage.


When applying for asylum, she changed her last name from Magan to Ali which was one her of Grandfather's names. She was granted Dutch citizenship, learned the language quickly, and worked as a translator for recently arrived Somalians. She applied for and was accepted to Leiden University, where she earned a degree in political science. She then obtained a seat in the Dutch Parliament, the Tweede Kamer. [1]. Her Dutch citizenship was rescinded some years later due to the fact that she gave a different name and birthdate on her application for asylum, and she resigned from Parliament. Shortly after this, Hirsi Ali moved to the United States.


Although she spent most of her early life as a devout Muslim, after the attacks on the World Trade Centers in America on September 11th, she re-examined her beliefs. She had become disenchanted with her religion, and saw contradictions in it. After reading Atheistisch Manifest (Atheist Manifesto) authored by Herman Philipse, a professor of philosophy at Utrecht University, she became an outspoken atheist. Although an atheist, she states that she considers the influence of the Christian community to be a positive force and one solution to helping Muslim refugees adapt.


After making a 10 minute short film with noted Dutch Film Maker Theo Van Gogh, entitled "Submission", a fatwa (proclamation of death) was issued on her, and Theo Van Gogh was killed. Henceforth, she does not travel to Muslim countries without police protection. She now resides and works in the United States. In 2011 she married British historian Niall Ferguson [2] and in 2012 gave birth to a son.[3]


  1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4985636.stm
  2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/8770965/Henry-Kissinger-watches-historian-Niall-Ferguson-marry-Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-under-a-fatwa.html
  3. http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/12/ayaan_hirsi_ali_gives_birth_to.php