Search This Blog

Monday, July 23, 2007

Beauty Role Model- Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I thought for a long time about who to name as the Beauty Role Model this week. I knew I didn't want to name a model or entertainer because I know other womyn that provide beauty and role model qualities. I am proud to re-introduce Ayaan Hirsi Ali to you all. I plan to read her book Infidel after I finish reading my current summer novel. I chose her because she believes in objectivity, feminism, and standing up for herself and her views. She is a a victim of FGM (female genital mutilation) and death threats. Yet she still continues her work with fervor, diplomacy, and grace. Also, she is beautiful and smart.

Time magazine has named Ayaan Hirsi Ali as an influential thinker in 2005. Somali-born former Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, known for her outspoken criticism of conservative Islam, seems unable to avoid controversy.

Caught up in a row over her Dutch citizenship, she resigned from parliament in May 2006 and said she would leave the Netherlands.

Her troubles began when Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk said she should be stripped of her passport because of falsifications in her asylum application when she came to the Netherlands in 1992.
But after the decision sparked uproar, Ms Verdonk made a major U-turn and said Ms Hirsi Ali could keep her Dutch citizenship after all.

It will not be enough to keep the 36-year-old in the country, however.
She has been offered a job at a Washington-based conservative think-tank, the American Enterprise Institute, starting in September.

Death threats
As one of the Netherlands' most prominent politicians, the swiftness of Ms Hirsi Ali's fall took observers by surprise.
She rose to international attention in 2004 as the writer of a controversial film on violence against Muslim women, Submission, after her collaborator, filmmaker Theo van Gogh, was murdered by a radical Islamist.

1992 - arrives in the Netherlands, gives false name and age and claims to have come directly from Somalia; granted political asylum
1997 - receives Dutch citizenship
2002 - Vetted as candidate for VVD party; tells party and media that she lied on her asylum application
2003 - elected to the Netherlands' lower house
2004 - goes into hiding after her collaborator on the film Submission, filmmaker Theo van Gogh, is murdered
2005 - returns to parliament and announces plans to write sequels to Submission
May 2006 - resigns as MP and announces departure for US after documentary ignites a row over her citizenship
June 2006 - Dutch immigration minister says she can keep full citizenship. Having received repeated death threats over her challenges to Islam's treatment of women, she has been living under 24-hour police guard.

The latest furore erupted after a television documentary highlighted lies she had told about her name, age and how she had reached the Netherlands when she applied for asylum 14 years ago.
Ms Hirsi Ali had admitted the falsifications in several media interviews since 2002 and also informed her party, the liberal-conservative VVD, before standing for parliament in 2003.
But where the documentary seems to have hit her reputation hardest is in interviewing members of her family who contested her claim that she was fleeing a forced marriage when she arrived in the Netherlands aged 22.

The MP has previously explained not giving her real name, Ayaan Hirsi Magan, and saying she was born in 1967, not 1969, because she was afraid her family would find her. She also told officials she had come directly from Somalia, rather than via Kenya and Germany, thus accelerating her claim for asylum. Ms Verdonk said in May that the falsifications made her application for citizenship, granted in 1997, invalid. But a month later, Ms Verdonk wrote to the Dutch parliament saying she had found a loophole which made it legitimate for Ms Hirsi Ali to have used her grandfather's name in her asylum claim.

Outspoken views
Speaking to the BBC, Ms Hirsi Ali said that despite having lived in many countries, it was "extremely important" to her to be a Dutch citizen.

Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is known her for hardline stance
"I define citizenship as declaring political allegiance to the community you belong [to] - and that for me is Holland," she told BBC World Service.

She said she had been "very open" about her asylum application when she was asked to stand for parliament and had been reassured by her party that her candidature was acceptable.
Dutch commentator Perro de Jong, of Radio Netherlands, said the uproar over Ms Hirsi Ali's status had been fuelled by recent debate over asylum and immigration in the Netherlands.
And he suggested that while the VVD benefited from the publicity Ms Hirsi Ali attracted, some within the party found it difficult to accept her outspoken views. "You could argue that everyone liked her as a token... but maybe they weren't willing, because she was a woman and an immigrant, to accept her as an intellectual force - someone with her own agenda who would speak out," he said.

Hirsi Ali subsequently took up a position at the American Enterprise Institute, published her autobiography, Infidel, and is currently working on another book, Shortcut to Enlightenment, a philosophical fantasy about a visit by Muhammad to the New York Public Library, in which he examines the ideas of various Enlightenment philosophers, compares them to the state of Islam today, and then comes to a number of important conclusions.Since arriving in Washington, D.C., her security has had to be upgraded once again due to death threats from Muslim extremists in the United States.

My intention here is to honor a Black woman I respect. I have no opinions at this time regarding her views on Islam and Muslims.

***I have taken excerpts from the***


BeautyinBaltimore said...

I am going to read her book soon. Before I start nursing school otherwise I will never get around to it.
I wonder if her family has disowned her.
Do you know that she is now an athesist. I wonder what made her give up religion completly.
One thing we cannot argue with is her intelligence. She went to another country and learned the so well. I think I read somewhere that she speaks a number of languages.

Carmen In NC said...

She a die hard type of woman.

muslimahlocs said...

hmmm...interesting post. sorry that my first comment will be so long.
unfortunately, a lot of miss hirsi's life story and struggle has been fabricated. her family and the man that she allegedly escaped from marrying have refuted most if not all of her story.
there are many practicing muslim women who criticize the treatment of muslim women by muslim men without denigrating the entire islamic faith as miss hirsi has done.
i think that many people who don't know much about islam conflate the religion and the culture within which it is practiced.
for example, FMG is not an islamic practice; it is a cultutal pracice that exists in north and west africa, the middle east, india and south america among muslims, christians, ethiopian jews and various traditional religions. see here for more info on the subject:
there are many different types of feminists, even within islam. i would describe myself as an islamic womanist in that i base my rights and obligations as a woman on the quran and sunnah not on NOW or any other western feminist movement that empowers women by devaluing family and marginalizing women of color.
i will be curious about your thoughts after you read her book. please do post a book review. and feel free to email me if you have any questions about islam while reading the book or after.

Naturally Sophia said...

Beauty in Baltimore- Ms. Ali is intelligent indeed. Thanks for dropping by.

Muslimahlocs- Do not apologize for the long comments. I actually enjoy them. :)

I do not think it is clear that her story has been fabricated. There are always 2 sides to a story and I am not sure why the stories don't align.

I agree with you in that people in the West fuse cultural and religious practices including FGM.

I understand that FGM is not an Islamic practice and regret that I did not specify that on the post. I know a few survivors of FGM and have mixed views about the topic. My views were cultivated from womyn that have survived it and NONE of them are or were Muslims.

Feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes; and is
the movement organized around this belief. I feel that some in the movement have marginalized womyn and devalued families. But there are certain womyn in the movement that I give my thanks too who never marginalized or devalued. I think the movement as a whole was/is beneficial and necessary. I am reminded of Audre Lorde and Angela Davis when I think about the feminist I would like to thank.

Because I am a feminist and womynly, I appreciate your womanism and the fact that you are free to base your womanism in whatever you choose. I am certain that the reforms of the movement aided all of us by decreasing prosecution and increasing freedom to execute that right. :)

I will do a book review post. Thank you for the suggestion, and I look forward to your comments. I hope I can encourage my book club to read it also. I am grateful that you extended an offer to answer my questions. I am sure I will have some. I have some thoughts now but need time to articulate questions.

Thanks for dropping in and I will certainly return the favor : )

muslimahlocs said...

hi sophia,
i have read several articles in which miss hirsi has admitted to fabricating much of her story in order to gain assylum. who knows when she was lying and when she was being honest.

FGM is an abhorrent practice. i pray that it will completely disappear from the planet.

one of the best classes that i took in college was taught by angela davis. it was on the herstory of african-american women. i liked that she stuck to the topic and only discussed her personal story in context and upon request. all women of color and non-woc owe her a great debt for her sheroism in advancing the rights of women. back then she clearly distinguished between feminism and womanism and identified with the latter. i cannot speak to her speak to her current position on the matter. and i believe that audre lorde considered herself a womanist along with alice walker and others.
do you distinguish between the two ideologies? and if not, why? and if so, why do you idetify as a feminist? i have heard some refer to womanism as black femisim but i am becoming less and less of a fan of qualified or hyphenated identities or explanations.
there are many women, womyn, womban and (even men (e.g., frederick douglass, hamza yusuf)) who struggle for the full participation and equality of both genders that would identify themselves as feminists, womanists or none of the above. let's remain among them!
thanks for stopping by my blog. glad that you were intrigued

Naturally Sophia said...

Muslimahlocs- I will do a post about feminism/womanism. I see an opportunity to elaborate and educate sisters that don't know the scope of the chat we are having. I will post this week. Smiles :)

Anonymous said...

I have just finished Ms. Ali's book and it has been an eye openener. She is an amazing and courageous woman, I have full respect for her and any woman who should come forward with a story like this. FGM should be abolished and condemed.
As a Sociologist I am,like her, concerned about why people do what they do and what they take with them thru life or leave behind.
Too many times in life we know better and still repeat the same mistakes, and many atrocities have been justified in the name of God, Allah.
Conformity of a Society, is to many of us, the most unrealistic and frightening thing to go against. We conform without even thinking - Its Life, The Way, we say. But many of us choose differently or just turn a blind eye, or make excuses. But really, i would like to believe we know better.
Let your conscience be your guide.
Way to go Ms Ali!