Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia and raised a devout Muslim. In 1992, Ayaan was married off by her father in a ceremony which she refused to attend. In order to escape this marriage, she fled to the Netherlands where she was given asylum, and eventually citizenship.
After earning a degree in political science at the University of Leiden, she served as an elected member of the Dutch parliament for three years.
She has since become an active critic of fundamentalist Islam, an advocate for women's rights and a leader in the campaign to reform Islam. Her willingness to speak out and her abandonment of the Muslim faith as currently defined have made her a target for violence and threats of death by Islamic extremists.
Ms. Hirsi Ali was named one of TIME magazine's ''100 Most Influential People'' of 2005, one of Glamour Magazine's Heroes of 2005, and she received the Prix Simone de Beauvoir in 2008. She has published a collection of essays entitled The Caged Virgin (Free Press, 2006) and a best-selling memoir Infidel (Free Press, 2007). She is now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC.
The AHA Foundation
THE BIG IDEA: Nomad with Ayaan Hirsi Ali
June 10, 2010