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Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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Biography: 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and founder of the AHA Foundation. She served as a member of the Dutch Parliament from 2003 to 2006.

She was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1969. As a young child, she was subjected to female genital mutilation. As she grew up, she embraced Islam and strove to live as a devout Muslim. But she began to question aspects of her faith. One day, while listening to a sermon on the many ways women should be obedient to their husbands, she couldn't resist asking, "Must our husbands obey us too?"

In 1992 Ayaan fled to the Netherlands to escape a forced marriage. There she was given asylum, and in time citizenship. She quickly learned Dutch and was able to study at the University of Leiden, earning her M.A. in political science. Working as a translator for Somali immigrants, she saw first hand the inconsistencies between liberal, Western society and tribal, Muslim cultures.

From 2003 to 2006, Ayaan served as an elected member of the Dutch parliament. While in parliament, she focused on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society, and on defending the rights of Muslim women.

In 2004 Ayaan gained international attention following the murder of Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh had directed her short film Submission, a film about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin, a radical Muslim, left a death threat for her pinned to Van Gogh's chest.

In 2006, Ayaan had to resign from parliament when the then Dutch minister for Immigration decided to revoke her citizenship, arguing that Ayaan had misled the authorities at the time of her asylum application. However, the Dutch courts confirmed that Ayaan was indeed a legitimate Dutch citizen, leading to the fall of the government. Disillusioned with the Netherlands, she subsequently moved to the United States.

In 2007, Ayaan founded the AHA Foundation to protect and defend the rights of women in the US from harmful traditional practices. Today, the Foundation is the leading organization working to end honor violence that shames, hurts, or kills thousands of women and girls in the U.S. each year, and puts millions more at risk. 

Ayaan was a Fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at The Harvard Kennedy School and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ayaan is currently researching the relationship between the West and Islam. She has to live with round-the-clock security, as her willingness to speak out and her abandonment of the Muslim faith have made her a target for violence by Islamic extremists.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was named one of TIME Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" of 2005, one of the Glamour Heroes of 2005 and Reader's Digest's European of the Year for 2005. She is the best selling author of Infidel (2007) and Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now (2015).

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In the News

A Triumph Of The Human Spirit

featuring Ayaan Hirsi Alivia The Roanoke Star.com
Monday, August 19, 2019

Today’s column is about a world famous person who you may have never heard of; her name is Ayaan Hirsi Ali who was born on November 13th, 1969 in Mogadishu, Somalia. Upon reading her story, her name may be engraved in your memory.

In the News

Contrasting Two Disparate Somalis: Ilhan Omar & Ayaan Hirsi Ali

featuring Ayaan Hirsi Alivia The Published Reporter
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

ay Greenberg, reporting in April 2019 in a column published by Neonnettle, said that, during an interview with a Middle Eastern magazine, Congressional Representative Ilhan Omar declared that living in “ugly” American society is “an everyday assault;” also adding that Omar claims that “every day” she is “threatened” and “demonized” due to the “ugliness” that she says is ingrained in the US populace.

In the News

A War On The West

quoting Niall Ferguson, Victor Davis Hanson, Ayaan Hirsi Alivia American Thinker
Monday, July 22, 2019

Will the West be complicit in its own destruction? That is the question raised by the documentary film, The Fight of Our Lives: Defeating the Ideological War against the West.

Featured

Can Ilhan Omar Overcome Her Prejudice?

by Ayaan Hirsi Alivia The Wall Street Journal
Friday, July 12, 2019

I was born in Somalia and grew up amid pervasive Muslim anti-Semitism. Hate is hard to unlearn without coming to terms with how you learned it.

Analysis and Commentary

Threats To Free And Open Societies

interview with H. R. McMaster, Niall Ferguson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Larry Diamondvia C-SPAN
Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Hoover Institution fellows H.R. McMaster, Niall Ferguson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Larry Diamond discuss threats to free and open societies and what can be done to defeat these threats across government, the private sector, academia, and civil society.

In the News

Documentary Explores The Ideological War Against The West

featuring Niall Ferguson, Victor Davis Hanson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Bruce Thorntonvia The Epoch Times
Monday, May 27, 2019

With the 2020 elections coming up and campaigns underway, the idea of democratic socialists and socialism has become a major topic of conversation. The Hill states, “A majority of Americans say socialism is incompatible with American values, and only 10 percent of voters in a new poll have a positive view of socialism.”

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Gimme Shelter

by Ayaan Hirsi Alivia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The definition of a “refugee” dates back decades and has outlived its usefulness. Nations now need a much more rigorous idea of just who deserves refuge.

Analysis and Commentary

We Need A Better Definition Of ‘Refugee’

by Ayaan Hirsi Alivia The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The global asylum and refugee system is no longer fit for purpose. As a beneficiary of that system, I do not make such a statement lightly. The reality is that it is outdated and can no longer cope with the challenges posed by mass violence and global migration today.

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Never Cry “Islamophobia”

by Ayaan Hirsi Alivia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 9, 2018

Societies learn and grow when they question, challenge—even offend. Islamists are pressuring free people to give up their most basic rights.

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The Human Rights Violation Of Women That Rarely Gets Discussed

by Ayaan Hirsi Alivia Fellow Talks
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

On April 11, 2018, the Hoover Institution hosted a panel on female genital mutilation featuring Mary Wambui, the founder and director of Shelter Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Ngong, Kenya, along with Research Fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

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