Why You Should Read Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I just finished reading Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

I don’t do a ton of book reviews on this site, but I’m compelled to do it for this one. This is an incredible book that gets to the heart of the problem with radical Islam. It’s not just about terrorism; it’s about the boundaries it sets on all people and especially the limitations it places on women.

I’m usually not a person who highlights passages in books — hell, I make fun of people who highlight everything in sight — but I somehow did it all over the place in this case. According to my Kindle, I made 72 separate highlights.

Here’s just a small sampling of passages that stood out:

As I learned Dutch, I began to formulate an almost impossibly ambitious goal: I would study political science to find out why this society, although it appeared to me as godless, worked when every society I had lived in, no matter how Muslim it claimed to be, was rotten with corruption, violence, and self-centered guile.

The Christianity of love and tolerance remains one of the West’s most powerful antidotes to the Islam of hate and intolerance. Ex-Muslims find Jesus Christ to be a more attractive and humane figure than Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

Then my mother turned the conversation back to what I was doing to invest in my hereafter. “Do you pray and fast, and read the Quran, my daughter?”

It took me so long to think of a good answer that she asked if I was still there. I decided to tell her the truth. “Ma, I don’t pray or fast, and I read the Quran occasionally. What I find in the Quran does not appeal to me.”

As soon as I said the words I regretted it. Predictably, she flew into a rage. “Infidel!” she cried. “You have abandoned God and all that is good, and you have abandoned your mother. You are lost!”

Then she hung up on me.

There’s so much more I wish I could share with you, particularly, a chapter which functions as a letter to her deceased Muslim grandmother explaining why she has left the faith. She writes “I have lived with the infidels for almost two decades. I have come to learn, appreciate, and adopt their way of life.” The entire chapter breaks down the problems with the religion Hirsi Ali grew up in and how much better things are in a country where you’re free to believe in whatever you want.

Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times disagrees about the focus of her criticism:

She is at her best when she is telling her powerful story. And she is at her worst when she is using her experience to excoriate a variegated faith that has more than one billion adherents. Her analysis seems accurate in its descriptions of Somalis, Saudis, Yemenis and Afghans, but not in her discussion, say, of Indonesian Muslims — who are more numerous than those other four nationalities put together.

She’s speaking to her experience, and in her life, faith has been anything but a blessing. If some cultures have learned to to adopt a more benign form of Islam, more power to them. But as you’ve all heard before, moderate religion lends a cover to more extreme versions. The happy ending — if you could call it that — occurred when Hirsi Ali shed her faith completely.

The part of the book that may be most controversial is Hirsi Ali’s idea for a remedy to radical Islam. She suggests that Christians ought to try converting Muslims to their faith.

Her rationale is that Muslims want a “redemptive God” and they already believe in a “higher power.” Might as well give them a less harmful version of it in the form of Jesus.

So long as we atheists and classical liberals have no effective programs of our own to defeat the spread of radical Islam, we should work with enlightened Christians who are willing to devise some. We should bury the hatchet, rearrange our priorities, and fight together against a much more dangerous common enemy.

Given the choice, I would be far rather live in a Christian than a Muslim country.

It’s a tough sell, and she spends pages trying to explain her case — admitting that there are plenty of problems with Christianity, too. She even suggests that her fellow New Atheists won’t take too kindly to the idea. I would agree. I think any attempt at converting extremists of one faith to another faith would lead to more violence, not less. But it’s not like I’m full of ideas that could actually work to lessen the threat of Islam.

So maybe she’s naïve. But she’s one of the few people who grew up in that culture in its worst form, left it, and lived to tell about it. She knows what she’s talking about. Her experiences may be unique but no doubt the stories she tells are indicative of what so many Somalian Muslims (and ex-Muslims) have gone through.

It’s really an amazing story. Despite all the depressing and horrific parts — there’s a lot about female genital mutilation — it’s extremely uplifting when you consider that Hirsi Ali broke free and she might be able to persuade others to do the same.

  • Jim (elbuho)

    I totally agree with you that this is a very important book. I don’t think she’s being naive, I think she’s being very clever. If she can mobilise the mainstream Christians in America to tackle radical Islam, she could achieve very great things. And once people have been motivated to think about the reality of their faith, I think there’s a good chance they won’t even bother with the new faith being offered them as a replacement. Or perhaps only briefly, as a stepping-stone to atheism. Remember it’s the mainstream, liberal Christians she’s addressing, not the evangelicals.

  • Samiimas

    Her rationale is that Muslims want a “redemptive God” and they already believe in a “higher power.” Might as well give them a less harmful version of it in the form of Jesus.

    I’ve always found the idea that Islam is inherently more violent than Christianity absurd. The vast majority of Christians live in civilized first world countries while the vast majority of Muslims are born in 3rd world ****holes, that always seemed a far bigger factor.

    Just look at Africa, centuries of colonialism have left it with comparable numbers of Christians and Muslims and yet your just as likely to hear of one group burning someone as a witch as you are the other. The only time the Christians in Africa ever seem to act any more civilized then their muslim neighbors is when threatened with a loss of aid money from those Christian first world countries.

  • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

    But it’s not like I’m full of ideas that could actually work to lessen the threat of Islam.

    I have one. It’s the same one that worked for Hirsi Ali: Let the Muslims live in the secular societies, and they will (over time) see that it’s OK to be only mildly religious, or even non-religious.

    Many people here in the Netherlands are also afraid of what Islam will do to our society and our culture, but the truth is that the Muslim population is secularizing fast, especially among the younger generations. Many are only really Muslim during their holidays, not unlike the many Holiday Christians.

    Of course, there is also a backlash to that trend that we need to keep an eye on. Some Muslims will see this trend as more reason to stick with a more fundamentalist outlook.

    But on the whole I’m optimistic. It’s going to take quite some time, but in the long run, it seems that experiencing prosperity, economical security and freedom (and education) will take away the desire for strong religious beliefs.

  • http://findingmyfeminism.blogspot.com/ Not Guilty

    I put it on hold at the library. Just based on the excerpt you posted, I can’t say I disagree with her. If people are looking for a god to believe in, I think the Christian god is far more desirable to the Islamic god. There are far more moderate Christians than moderate Muslims, IMO. Of course, atheism is better, but it’s a process. This is a battle between two evils and I think Christianity is the lesser evil. Gosh that was hard to write…

  • GSW

    Nice, I have just finished reading this book and would like to hand out a mild warning to & from the female viewpoint:
    Please don’t start this book last thing at night since there is some danger of either having nightmares when you finally get to sleep (around 3am in my case) or of breaking all the china in a fit of fury.

    @Deen – there is nothing secular about blocking streets for 3 hours on a Friday afternoon to give us all the unforgettable view of thousands of male posteriors (Ugh!)

    As for “see[ing] that it’s OK to be only mildly religious”, please, you grew up knowing that you would be a responsible adult, that you would have to accept responsibility for your own life. Far too many muslims really and truly believe that Allah will take care of everything. They are waiting for Allah to give them “dominion over the infidel”, meanwhile they have special privileges and and lots of mosques, what incentive is there for secularity?

    These are the things we should be teaching them – and demanding in return – pride in achievement, responsibility for the results of ones actions, respect for one’s children and individuality, respect for the people who have made room for them in their society and are teaching their children.
    These should be taught in the schools – secular schools – where religion should not be permitted to rear its head.

  • GSW

    Re: this battle of evils, 1400 years into Christianity, it was no different from Islam today. In 400 years Islam will be where Christianity is now, and in 1000 years where atheism is.

    The Real Question is: Can we afford to wait?

  • http://herwholeidealism.wordpress.com/ Her Idealisticness

    Great review – thanks. She caught my attention with Infidel and I cannot wait to read this one too.

  • muggle

    “Infidel” was fascinating but I won’t be reading this one. Frankly, I’ve seen some recent interviews and all and I’ve gone from deeply admiring Ali for her courageous struggle to being angry with her for being another pusher of Christianity.

    First of all, it is Christian extremists who are an immediate threat to me despite 9/11. I can see Muslim extremists getting there certainly but, at present, I have more to fear every day from those who are always curtailing my freedoms by legislating or court ruling Christianity into law or just plain promoting bigotry towards nonbelievers and other non-Christians. Given this, how can any American not be pissed off at this give them Christianity stupidity and it is just that stupidity.

    Secondly, she is proposing not for Muslims in general. She is proposing specifically for extremist Muslims. This is beyond stupid. This is insane. As Samiimas points out above, they’re not likely to take to it kindly and it is, in fact, more likely to ignite the violence she seeks to avoid.

    Beyond that, even if it worked, how can anyone believe that extremists are going to be the moderate, liberal Christians I’m always imploring anti-theists to be more tolerant of? She acts as if Christianity is going to take violent Koran-reading people and make nice cherry picking Christians of them. Uh, I really don’t think so. The reason we have those peaceful Christians is because they ignore quite a chunk of the Bible. Thankfully. But if Ali thinks people who use the Koran to justify violence aren’t going to use the Bible to justify violence, she either hasn’t read the Bible or has lost her freaking mind.

  • TychaBrahe

    Christianity looks like a mild religion in the US, where most Christians are run the range from accepting to tolerant to humorously offensive in their condemnation of those with different viewpoints.

    Of course, if you go to Africa, there are people trying to decide if gays should be killed or only arrested and jailed for life.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    There were many people who wanted the US military to pass out Christian bibles in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Others wanted non-government organizations to do this. (Perhaps some did). Of course missionaries pass out bibles as well as short-term church mission trips. I for one will not be under-writing any such mission trips. I think Christianity (in the West) is preferable to Islam precisely because the Western societies have become secularized to a great extent. I think the goal should be to secularize the Islamic societies where they start to become “cultural Muslims” (kind of like “cultural Jews”). I can live with “cultural Muslims”, “cultural Jews”, and “cultural Christians”. There is nothing wrong with cultural pride and identity as long as you don’t start thinking that yours is better and all others are “infidels” and less worthy of existence and equal rights.

  • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

    @GSW:

    there is nothing secular about blocking streets for 3 hours on a Friday afternoon to give us all the unforgettable view of thousands of male posteriors (Ugh!)

    Didn’t I already acknowledge that we have to watch out for a return to fundamentalism as a response to the secularization?

    Far too many muslims really and truly believe that Allah will take care of everything

    And no Christian today believes this about their own God? Besides, many Muslim children growing up in western countries already go to secular schools (or even Christian schools). They are constantly exposed to western culture and expectations. Most are going to grow up quite differently from the way their parents did (which, admittedly, causes its own set of problems).

    meanwhile they have special privileges and and lots of mosques, what incentive is there for secularity?

    Christians have special privileges too (far more than Muslims) and they have far more churches as well. Yet they are secularizing all over Europe. What incentives do they have?

    Simple: religion lives of fear and insecurity. In a society with less fear and insecurity, there is less need for religion.

    Besides, I have to question if Muslims really have that many mosques. The problem with Muslims praying in the streets of Paris that you referred to, for example, seems to be partially caused by a lack of mosques.

    The Real Question is: Can we afford to wait?

    We probably have to, since there don’t seem to be many attractive alternatives. You can’t really limit freedom of religion, for example, especially not for Muslims only, without setting some horrible precedents. The same with limiting immigration from Muslim countries, or threatening Muslims with deportation. The only things that we might be able to do are things like improving education, and trying to combat isolation of the Muslim community from the rest of society. But again, these are slow processes. There are no magic bullets. If you are looking for a quick and dirty solution, it’ll likely end up more dirty than quick.

  • NewEnglandBob

    I read the book and it is a very good book. Although I do not agree with all of Ali’s suggestions, everyone should read this book.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    I see her suggestion of offering up Christianity as an alternative to Islam as being not entirely unreasonable. No, I don’t think that Christianity is an ideal alternative to Islam, but from personal and professional experience, it is certainly not as primitive or volatile.
    Try replacing the word “Islam”, with the word “heroin”. If you look at Christianity as methadone and atheism as going “cold turkey”, then her point might be better made.

  • Samiimas

    The reason we have those peaceful Christians is because they ignore quite a chunk of the Bible. Thankfully. But if Ali thinks people who use the Koran to justify violence aren’t going to use the Bible to justify violence, she either hasn’t read the Bible or has lost her freaking mind.

    This. Nothing is so aggravating as watching someone rant and rave about how Islam obviously promotes violence because, shocker, they can find passages in a book written before the time of Charlemange that glorify violence. When it’s pointed out that the sane Muslims ignore those just like they ignore every inconvenient part of their book it just gets derailed into a long rant about how they aren’t cherry picking anything it just happens by total coincidence that their interpretation that would be completely unrecognizable to someone 100 years ago and gotten them burned for heresy 200 years ago is the only true interpretation ever.

  • MaryD

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali may be suggesting that christians could be allies of atheists in defeating islam.

    However some christians act as allies of islam on the basis that any faith is better than none or that if the walls of islam fall those of christendom will be next.

  • Rich Wilson

    My comment from: http://www.atheistmedia.com/2010/06/from-islam-to-america-ayaan-hirsi-ali.html

    Interesting that she sees Christianity as an acceptable lesser of two evils, but not a clitoral ‘nick’. In the latter case, she feels energy should be directed towards the root cause of female genital mutilation. Personally, I think energy should be directed at the root cause of religion.

    seems apropos.

  • False Prophet

    @Samiimas,

    I’ve always found the idea that Islam is inherently more violent than Christianity absurd. The vast majority of Christians live in civilized first world countries while the vast majority of Muslims are born in 3rd world ****holes, that always seemed a far bigger factor.

    Even in The Clash of Civilizations, which many neo-cons held up to boost their arguments of irreconcilable differences between the West and Islam, Huntington couldn’t discount demographics as a possibility. To paraphrase, “maybe Islam is violent because its founder was a warrior. Or maybe because Islamic nations have experienced a youth bulge of young men like Britain did in the late 19th century and Germany did in the early 20th.”

    I find the latter premise more likely. By the early 19th century, the Ottoman, Mughal and Durrani Empires were all in decline and being picked apart or dismantled by Western imperial ambitions. Islam didn’t really gain this perception as a violent ideology until the Iranian Revolution in 1979 (the Ba’ath parties in Syria and Iraq and other dictators in Muslim countries post-WWII were generally secular, and strongly aligned with either the Soviets or the US).

    And I’m not in favour of Hirsi Ali’s policy of conversion. From what I’ve seen, the only thing worse than someone born to zealotry is someone who converts to it.

  • Jen

    I finally read Infidel recently and I look forward to Nomad. I will say that since Infidel came out, I have heard interviews and read articles about Hirsi Ali, and I was surprised, reading her book, how conservative many of her views are. I tend to think multiculturalism is a good thing, for instance, and she is very against it because of the ghettoization of thought. Still, I was a little surprised.

    I will say that from her last book, I was under the impression that she understands secularized Muslims- she met them in Holland- but that she is against allowing Muslims from traditional societies to band together, create religious schools with no secular influence, and continue to live “traditional”(with all that implies) lives in secular societies.

    Having said that, I also think she feels that because Islam teaches subservience that is more dangerous that Christianity, which she sees as not involved in that the same way.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    I still haven’t finished reading Infidel, but of what I’ve read so far, I really admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali for her bravery. I look forward to reading Nomad soon.

    Personally, I would disagree with her recommendation concerning Christianity. I can’t really say I left Islam, because I never agreed with it from the time I was very young; I always disagreed with the discriminatory rules. For a while, I still believed in God. I considered converting to Christianity and, after my first attempt to read the Bible, saw right away how horrible it was. (I have to wonder if the people who converted from one of the three monotheisms to another read all three holy books and noticed the many similarities.)

    My concern would be that the denominations of Christianity that are concerned with getting more converts due to their belief that everyone else will go to Hell aren’t really the ones that would be a great improvement if Muslims converted to them. Meanwhile, the denominations that are the nicer ones probably wouldn’t be the ones obsessed with converting people, since they think God loves everyone. So, we end up with a paradox that the Christian denominations we (or at least I) would not want people to join are the ones actively seeking converts (via manipulation and lies).

    I tend to agree with previous people who commented saying that secularism is what improved Christianity. Christianity by itself doesn’t have very much to recommend it.

    Anyway, thanks very much for the review! I look forward to reading her book and learning more about her experiences and education! Despite my disagreement on this point, I think Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a great role model; she shows a lot of bravery and strength in the face of danger, and I’m so very glad that she is speaking up about the problems of Islam. We need more people like her who can show that a secular society is much better than a theocratic one. I hope that people like her will encourage more former Muslims and even more moderate Muslims to speak out against the tragedies going on in the world today.

  • Steve

    Leaving all the other trappings and excesses of either Islam or Christianity aside, there is one reason why I kinda prefer Muhammed over Jesus:
    He is just a human being. He is a prophet of his god and not the son of god.

    I could take Christianity a lot more serious if it wasn’t so fixed on trinitarism and all the mythology around Jesus as the literal son of god. Why oh why can’t Jesus just be a prophet of god? A normal human who just walks around and has a message for people. One that doesn’t include being divine. Some early sects believed exactly that.

    And even if you accept Jesus as god’s son, they had to mess it up by making them the same person. Urk! And then add that holy spirit nonsense. As a child that already didn’t make any sense to me..nah Muhammed’s just seems a lot more simple and believable compared to that.

    Contrary to what some think, the Council of Nicaea wasn’t really about that fundamental decision. That dispute (with Arianism) was about the exact nature of Jesus’s divinity.

  • Raven

    I’m sorry but I can’t agree with Ayaan on this point and I think she is brilliant and brave. I read her last book, Infidel, and was impressed and I intend to read this one as well.

    I cannot, however, agree with trying to convert someone to any religion and it is not because I am an atheist. It is simply the fact that I believe in a constitutional right to freedom of religion. Everyone needs to choose their own beliefs as these are fundamental tenants of freedom and democracy

    The answer is education and the enemy, fundamentalist Islam, knows this. That is why they spend billions of dollars going to, primarily poor, under educated, communities to build madrasah (extremist Muslim schools). They marginalize half the population by not allowing women to participate in society and they teach young children hatred and intolerance.

    I think we should look to people like Greg Mortenson (author of Three Cups of Tea among other books) who has started an educational movement in the Middle East. If we teach people that intolerance, bigotry and cruelty are not necessary and not acceptable, we have a better chance than trying to convert people to another religion.

  • Angie

    I’m reading NOMAD right now, and I’m enjoying it immensly. Like THE CAGED VIRGIN and INFIDEL, NOMAD is eloquent, sensitive, and full of intelligent observations about religion.

    However, I do NOT agree that proselytizing Muslims to convert to Christianity is a realistic strategy. As too many of us know, Christianity is all too fallible, and Ali’s strategy would merely replace one lie with another.

  • Angie

    On a different note, while Ali’s books are insightful and articular, Ali herself strikes me as bumbling when she speaks in person. I saw her speak at Bucknell in 2009, and I wasn’t terribly impressed. Her recent appearance on the COLBERT REPORT showed that she knows little about Christianity, even though she praises it in NOMAD:

    *******

    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/309925/june-01-2010/ayaan-hirsi-ali

    ALI: If you really look into the hell of Islam, the hell in the hereafter that is promised by the Muslims, it’s all about being boiled and broiled and all of that.

    COLBERT: Ours too.

    ALI: Well, I don’t know. Christians just say, “Come over, we’ll tell you about Jesus Christ.” I mean, I’ve been to church with some Christians and I got the little thing-thing, the waffle.

    COLBERT: The eucharist, the body of Christ, God incarnate, yes.

    ALI: I had no idea that it was that, so I put it in my pocket

    COLBERT: You know what? For later when you’re hungry for Jesus.

    ******

    Why does Ali come across as so eloquent and intelligent in her books, and so bumbling in person? Does she have a ghost writer, perhaps? Has anyone else observed this?

  • Moxiequz

    Why does Ali come across as so eloquent and intelligent in her books, and so bumbling in person? Does she have a ghost writer, perhaps? Has anyone else observed this?

    Someone who’s an excellent writer won’t necessarily be an excellent public speaker. Those are two separate skill sets. Sometimes they overlap and skilled public speakers can be engaging writers as well (and vice versa) but not always.

    Just because she’s less comfortable in public appearances doesn’t necessarily mean she employs a ghost-writer.

  • Slickninja

    I heard Ayaan on NPR, I wasn’t exactly sold on her but the her harsh criticisms of Islam were pretty interesting. She has an insider knowledge that most of us do not, that actually were worse than some of the things I previously knew about Islam, especially in genital mutilation. Her love for Christianity was a bit repulsive, I think she’s forgetting what the West has done become secular, it was less Christianity (We had dark ages too) and more the effects of scientific discovery and economic empowerment (often by exploitation) that allowed us to develop a lifestyle that created a more liberal environment.

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    The Kristof review of Nomad was condescending, P.C. garbage.

    As for AHA’s idea of converting Islamists to the kinder-gentler moderate Christianity, I just don’t know what Ali is thinking here. It’s a stupendously silly idea from an otherwise brilliant thinker. I don’t get it.

    And we should recognize the fact that converting Islamists to Christianity is far more radical than attempting to “convert” them to atheism (I should say “convert them to secularism“). Essentially, Ali is saying that the best way to get off heroin is to get onto a less-potent substitute, Methadone. The liabilities of Methadone are not as bad as heroin, but you’re still not clean. She seems to think “cold turkey” is not possible (and she would know better than I, certainly). But I think it might be. With globalization, the youth of the Muslim world is, in many places, more questioning, more willing to give secularism a try (notice the green movement in Iran). There is a chance that widespread secularism in the Muslim world will happen, not visited upon the people from outside, but coming from the people on the inside. It’s a slim chance, but there’s at least some hope.

  • fritzy

    I have a great deal of respect for Ali, but I have never bought into the concept of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This has led to a great many problems in the past, including a great deal of the mess we are facing in the middle east. Simply put, we’ve funded both sides of the war on terror. Sure xtianity may offer a more mild form of belief but this is only because of the influence of the west, not because the xtian mythology is any less barbaric. Muslims don’t take kindly to xtian evangalism (neither do I) and there is always the possibility that traditional, extreme Muslims, if introduced to moderate xtianity will have a radicallizing effect on xtianity, rather than the calming effect on Muslims that Ali hopes for.

    I don’t agree that alternatives have not been offered. The best I’ve heard is to become independent of fossil fuels, as much of the money goes towards funding anti-western activities. Follow that up with ending all military action in the region and use the money to pull these countries out of poverty as the flow of funds could be controlled by the west. It’s difficult to bite the hand that feeds you and even if the current generation of Muslims are not on board with appreciating the charity of the west, I would imagine their children will be.

  • Steve

    @Slickninja
    Interesting that you should mention the Dark Ages. It was during that time around 800-1300 or so that Islamic/Arabic countries were the center of the scientific world (discounting China here, which was isolated from the west). Whereas Europe was in a religious stranglehold, science of all kinds flourished in the middle east. They rediscovered ancient Greek texts and build on their work. If you wanted to learn medicine for example, that was the place to be.

    More on topic: the idea to convert Muslims insane. The more radical Muslim countries place the death penalty on that. Even in the moderate countries it means social exile. Leaving aside that you just replace evil with a lesser evil.

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    The dirty secret is that our modern “Kinder, Gentler” Xtainity exists because of the rise of humanism and secularization. Churches have often had to play catch-up to the moral outrage of their membership on issues like slavery, and woman’s & gay rights. The state used to establish one religion and either become the agent of enforcement for it or permit it to use torture, imprisonment & execution to enforce its primacy.
    Today, the only power a church has over its members is excommunication; and no power over its non-members.
    It is Theocracy (state enforced religious orthodoxy) that poisons the well, and it is irrelevant whether it is a Xtian or Muslim orthodoxy.

  • CS Shelton

    I don’t even have to add anything because it’s all been said, and well. Ayaan is a brave person with a moving life story, but this idea is f*cking nuts.

    What’s worse, it smacks of creeping theism. It makes me doubt the depth of her atheism, and while I am OK with someone being a theist, for someone with her life story it seems pathetic and mentally ill. The fact she’s worked with the American Enterprise Institute doesn’t give me much cause for hope that she’ll wise up.

  • Citizen Z

    Why does Ali come across as so eloquent and intelligent in her books, and so bumbling in person? Does she have a ghost writer, perhaps? Has anyone else observed this?

    Well, she’s never lived in an English speaking country. Speaking extemporaneously in a second language is very different from writing in a second language. With writing you can keep polishing your work.

  • Troglodyke

    First of all, it is Christian extremists who are an immediate threat to me despite 9/11. I can see Muslim extremists getting there certainly but, at present, I have more to fear every day from those who are always curtailing my freedoms by legislating or court ruling Christianity into law or just plain promoting bigotry towards nonbelievers and other non-Christians. Given this, how can any American not be pissed off at this give them Christianity stupidity and it is just that stupidity.

    This. Yes. Thank you. Perfect.

    Americans on the whole are at a much greater risk from American Xtians than any other religious sect.

  • jose

    I don’t mean to be offensive of anything, but isn’t she writing the same book over and over again?

  • http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com Jon

    I think she should be taken with a grain of salt. She works for the American Enterprise Institute. Basically a Republican front group advocating torture and war, especially against Muslims (since they happen to be sitting on a wealth of resources).

    So the Muslim societies she lived in are rotten to the core. I wonder if that might have something to do with the US policies which overthrew elected governments and installed vicious dictators in Muslim countries. That is, policies advocated by the AEI, which she now works for. AEI likes to blame Islam. Of course when they wanted to invade Latin America they’d blame communism. When the wall fell they switched to drugs. Today if they want your resources they call you a terrorist or radical jihadist.

  • http://frans.lowter.us Frans

    @Angie:

    Why does Ali come across as so eloquent and intelligent in her books, and so bumbling in person? Does she have a ghost writer, perhaps? Has anyone else observed this?

    Even though she hasn’t lived in the Netherlands for a while, perhaps you’ll think her better in Dutch.

    Anyway, I think the way she speaks is more likely to be (at least originally) fairly regular Kenyan English.

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