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The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam » (Reprint)

Book cover image of The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Authors: Ayaan Hirsi Ali
ISBN-13: 9780743288347, ISBN-10: 0743288343
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Date Published: April 2008
Edition: Reprint

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Author Biography: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, was raised Muslim, and spent her childhood and young adulthood in Africa and Saudi Arabia. In 1992, Hirsi Ali came to the Netherlands as a refugee. She earned her college degree in political science and worked for the Dutch Labor party. She denounced Islam after the September 11 terrorist attacks and now serves as a Dutch parliamentarian, fighting for the rights of Muslim women in Europe, the enlightenment of Islam, and security in the West.

Book Synopsis

Muslims who explore sources of morality other than Islam are threatened with death, and Muslim women who escape the virgins' cage are branded whores. So asserts Ayaan Hirsi Ali's profound meditation on Islam and the role of women, the rights of the individual, the roots of fanaticism, and Western policies toward Islamic countries and immigrant communities. Hard-hitting, outspoken, and controversial, The Caged Virgin is a call to arms for the emancipation of women from a brutal religious and cultural oppression and from an outdated cult of virginity. It is a defiant call for clear thinking and for an Islamic Enlightenment. But it is also the courageous story of how Hirsi Ali herself fought back against everyone who tried to force her to submit to a traditional Muslim woman's life and how she became a voice of reform.

Born in Somalia and raised Muslim, but outraged by her religion's hostility toward women, Hirsi Ali escaped an arranged marriage to a distant relative and fled to the Netherlands. There, she learned Dutch, worked as an interpreter in abortion clinics and shelters for battered women, earned a college degree, and started a career in politics as a Dutch parliamentarian. In November 2004, the violent murder on an Amsterdam street of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, with whom Hirsi Ali had written a film about women and Islam called Submission, changed her life. Threatened by the same group that slew van Gogh, Hirsi Ali now has round-the-clock protection, but has not allowed these circumstances to compromise her fierce criticism of the treatment of Muslim women, of Islamic governments' attempts to silence any questioning of their traditions, and of Western governments' blind tolerance of practices such as genital mutilation and forced marriages of female minors occurring in their countries.

Hirsi Ali relates her experiences as a Muslim woman so that oppressed Muslim women can take heart and seek their own liberation. Drawing on her love of reason and the Enlightenment philosophers on whose principles democracy was founded, she presents her firsthand knowledge of the Islamic worldview and advises Westerners how best to address the great divide that currently exists between the West and Islamic nations and between Muslim immigrants and their adopted countries.

An international bestseller — with updated information for American readers and two new essays added for this edition — The Caged Virgin is a compelling, courageous, eye-opening work.

Library Journal

In this thought-provoking collection of essays, Somali-born Ali unrelentingly advocates women's rights in Islamic cultures and decries even a Western tolerance that serves to encourage Islamic subjugation of women by practices such as forced marriages, genital mutilation, and honor killings. Raised a devout Muslim, she fled an arranged marriage, sought sanctuary in Holland, learned Dutch, and worked as an interpreter with immigrants and social agencies, sharpening her awareness of the desperate plight of women and children in shelters. After taking a degree in political science at the University of Leiden and having some television exposure on the issue, she was elected to the Dutch Parliament in 2002. Her outspokenness and legislative work earned her awards as well as death threats, which intensified after her short film script, Submission, led to the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in late 2004. Undaunted by pressures, she wrote this book, which was published that same year in Holland. Contemporary and controversial, Ali castigates extremists who emphasize virginity to the point of violence and the failure of some muslims to self-criticize. Her work will be of interest in general and women's collections. [Ali was recently forced out of the Dutch Parliament and threatened with revocation of her Dutch citizenship owing to controversy surrounding her immigration, which she has since challenged. Ed.] Anna M. Donnelly St. John's Univ. Lib., NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Table of Contents

Preface: Breaking Through the Islamic Curtain     ix
Why Can't We Take a Critical Look at Ourselves?     1
The Virgins' Cage     9
Let Us Have a Voltaire     27
What Went Wrong?: A Modern Clash of Cultures     35
A Brief Personal History of My Emancipation     59
Bin Laden's Nightmare: Interview with Irshad Manji     71
Freedom Requires Constant Vigilance     77
Four Women's Lives     83
How to Deal with Domestic Violence More Effectively     95
Genital Mutilation Must Not Be Tolerated     101
Ten Tips for Muslim Women Who Want to Leave     111
Submission: Part I     123
The Need for Self-Reflection Within Islam     133
Portrait of a Heroine as a Young Woman     145
A Call for Clear Thinking     153
Defending Western Ideals     159
The Holiness of Secular Books     165
Notes     179
Index     184