Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Once a practicing Muslim, Somali-Dutch Ayaan Hirsi Ali has become a staunch critic of Islam and an activist against the female oppression she believes plagues Muslim communities. Ali left Somalia in the early 1990s to escape an arranged marriage and obtained political asylum in the Netherlands where she left Islam for atheism and entered politics.

Ali is the author of two best-selling autobiographies, Infidel and Nomad, and has been outspoken on her belief that Islam is not a religion of peace. "I wanted secular, non-Muslim people to stop kidding themselves that 'Islam is peace and tolerance.'" After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Ali said, "I knew that a vast mass of Muslims would see the attacks as justified retaliation against the infidel enemies of Islam."

Among Ali's critics include Shirin Ebadi, an advocate on Muslim women's rights and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who has stated that those, such as Ali, who claim Islam is not compatible with women's rights are "simply giving justification to non-democratic Islamic governments."