Ayaan Hirsi Ali, 2006 News

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a writer and activist, was born in Mogadishu, Somalia on November 13, 1969. Her father, Hirsi Magan Isse, was a leader of Somalia's Revolution and jailed soon after her birth. Because of her father's politics and turmoil in her country, Hirsi Ali and her family were forced to move to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. In Kenya, Hirsi Ali studied at the Muslim Girls' Secondary School. While living in Kenya, she was exposed to Islamic culture as well as Western culture and values.

In 1992, Hirsi Ali requested and received political asylum in The Netherlands. She worked in social service jobs while studying Western political and social theory. She earned a MA in Political Science at Leiden University. She was a researcher at the Wiardi Beckman Foundation in Amsterdam from 2001 to 2001. She served on the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. Hirsi Ali, a critic of militant Islam, collaborated with Theo van Gogh in 2004 on Submission, a film about the abuse of Muslim women. Van Gogh was later killed by a militant Muslim. Hirsi Ali received death threats over the film and was forced into hiding.

In May 2006, Hirsi Ali was stripped of her Dutch citizenship. The Dutch immigration minister, Rita Verdonk, said she acted because Hirsi Ali had lied about her age, last name, and what country she was fleeing when she sought asylum in the Netherlands in 1992. At the time, Hirsi Ali had been living in Kenya and trying to avoid an arranged marriage, but she said she was fleeing Somalia. She said that she had been forthcoming about the lies during her campaign for a seat in parliament. The Dutch government announced in June 2006 that Hirsi Ali would be able to retain her Dutch citizenship.

Hirsi Ali's books include the memoir Infidel (2007), The Caged Virgin 2006, and Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilizations (2010). She has written numerous articles on contemporary religious, political, and social issues. She continues to be an outspoken critic against female genital mutilation and the treatment of women in Islam. In 2005, Time magazine named Hirsi Ali one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

2006 People in the News