Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali in 2016
Parroting squawkbox
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And a dirty dozen more
I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars.
Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself;
at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes.
There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that.
You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say,
'This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.' There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.
—Ayaan Hirsi Ali, fearmongering about 1.5 billion Muslims[1]

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, born Ayaan Hirsi Magan (1969–), is a controversial Somali-born Dutch-American writer and activist.

Before coming to the United States, she fled to the Netherlands as a refugee, avoiding a forced marriage in Germany, the country she was visiting at the time with her family. On Dutch soil, she was accepted as a political refugee from Somalia, alleging to be fleeing from the civil war that was occurring there in 1992. She lied, since she had also previously lived for several years in Kenya (therefore not fleeing from the civil war which was the reason for which she applied for asylum); but she also omitted that she arrived from Germany, which, according to laws regulating asylum seekers, should've been the first place where she should apply for asylum.[2] She did this because she feared her family could find her — it is also the reason for why she applied for asylum with the surname Ali rather than her actual last name, Magan. She also fibbed about her age.

She is a victim of female genital mutilation (FGM) and Wahhabi indoctrination at an early age, which should be reason to empathize with her personal tragedy and the courage it took to flee a misogynistic destiny. However, this should not serve as a reason to hate Muslims. She is a vitriolic critic of Islam and multiculturalism, going so far as to advocate amending Western constitutions to make it possible to shut down all Muslim schools because "the jihadi genie is out of the bottle".[3] Her books, columns and talk-show appearances helped pave the way for the rise of Dutch far-right populist wackaloon Geert Wilders—and Jörg Haider is spinning in his grave.

She is married to wingnut[4] historian Niall Ferguson (which might explain a few things), with whom she has one son.[5]

Despite her highly-questionable views, she is at the same time one of the most outspoken critics of female genital mutilation and has vehemently defended women, the LGB community and other victims of religious orthodoxy. She was also a well known supporter of humanism, secularism and atheism. However, over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to praise this work as her own narrative becomes more Islamophobic, conservative and, at times, racist. Additionally, she is a trans-exclusionary radical feminist, going as far to promote the pseudoscientific book "Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters" by known transphobe Abigail Shrier.[6] She also now insists we need to "fight woke ideology"[7], which is ironic considering that those most opposed to "wokism" would like her to shut up and get back in the kitchen, please.


Early life[edit]

Ali was born as a member of the Somali elite. She is the daughter of the revolutionary leader Hirsi Magan Isse‎. Isse sent his family to Kenya when she was a child, where she lived an upper middle class life attending a Muslim school for girls (although her brother attended a Christian one, which kind of seems a bit weird if her family were a bunch of Islamic fanatics like she had said). There, she was forced by her grandmother to undergo female genital mutilation when she was 5 years old. She later fled to Europe to avoid what she claimed was an abusive arranged marriage, although for some reason she still talked with her ex-husband, who had allegedly paid so that she could even go to Europe, and he even agreed to a divorce.[8]

Life in the Netherlands[edit]

Ali first went to Germany and lived with an aunt, but then moved to the Netherlands, where she was granted political asylum. She later received a refugee scholarship to study at Leiden University.

Ali was elected to the Dutch Parliament in 2003 on the right-wing VVD ticket, but had to resign in 2006 after the Dutch television program Zembla exposed huge chunks of her story to be well... not true.[9] Not only had she lied about fleeing from Somalia, she had left before the violence had even started.[10] All of this might have been understandable, except that her party, VVD, has a strong anti-immigration policy, and is very vocal about denying so called "fortune seekers" entry.

After the expose, Verdonk decided that by the standing laws (enacted by the VVD), Ali should have her Dutch citizenship taken away. However, this decision was highly controversial, and on the initiative of left-wing parties this was eventually overturned. The whole affair also resulted in the coalition government falling apart as the center-left coalition party (D66) felt that this was too dickish even for the VVD, and new elections had to be written out.

Ali stated that all foreign aid to Africa was not just useless, but even harmful, and that it merely amounted to "welfare for an alcoholic father with 10 children". Aside from the borderline racism, her source of information for this was a single chapter of a controversial book.[11]

Murder of Theo van Gogh[edit]

In 2004, Ali collaborated with Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh to produce a short film about Islam's attitude to women (Submission). The film showcased verses from the Koran painted on the naked bodies of women, which provoked a predictable controversy. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was threatened with death by Islamists, and received police protection. In November 2004, Van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam by the Islamist Mohammed Bouyeri.[12] The killer first shot Van Gogh, then stabbed him with a knife several times, and finally stabbed a note to his chest[13] that was addressed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Off to America[edit]

After the Zembla expose caused her Dutch political career to go down in flames, Ali then moved to the United States and now works for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a neoconservative "think" tank. She spun an incredible, somewhat convoluted and contradictory story about her life and the Netherlands debacle, but her claims—that "political Islam eventually made my life in the Netherlands impossible. If it were not for political Islam, I would almost certainly still be Dutch"—were eagerly accepted by the AEI. Ali became an American citizen in 2013.[14]

Anti-Islam advocacy[edit]

Ali at a book signing.

Ali has authored several books: Infidel, her autobiography; The Caged Virgin, a set of essays on the role of women in Islam; and Nomad, the story of her life after leaving Somalia. In the Netherlands, her main impact came from her criticism of the country's diversity policies, and her openly hostile attitude to Islam. That she was a woman, an African, and an ex-Muslim atheist all lent credibility to her views (undermined by the Zembla expose). Astute observers might also note the incongruity of a Somali woman who benefited from a country's refugee policies and willingness to help others telling the Dutch people that diversity is bad.[15][16]

She has advocated a rigorous policy of 'integration' for immigrants, insisting that they must abandon those traditions commonly found in Muslim communities; some of which, to be fair to Ali, do run contrary to the beliefs and practices of the civilized world. For instance, she spoke against the marriage of underage girls, and intolerance shown towards gay people, although you could arguably hold it against her for portraying child marriages as a strictly Islamic practice that needs to be stamped out, rather than a more nuanced cultural problem that is pervasive in multiple religions in areas all over, including Africa.[17][18] No word, however, on her opinion of the attacks on abortion rights and Planned Parenthood by her employer, AEI.[19]

Ali is unlike classic wingnuts in that she splits her time fairly evenly between offering genuine, important critiques of Islam and being a raving Islamophobe, although unfortunately it appears that lately she's been slowly moving from the 'legitimate criticism' camp to the 'jihadis are everywhere' group that the AEI attracts. Whether her beliefs are moving further into outright bigotry, or if she's playing to the crowd, is anyone's guess. Although given who she ended up marrying, there's probably some money in the former camp. She is probably one of the best examples of "Your mileage may vary" when it comes to her writings on the subject. To her credit, her latest book, Heretic (2015), is a lot more level-headed than her earlier work and she quickly moved away from defending a murderous nutcase who cited her in his manifesto (after rationalizing his actions).[20] In the United States she enjoys being an on-hand expert on Islam for Fox News, and being within the vicinity of Pat Robertson's shriveling corporeal form.[21]

The Southern Poverty Law Center considers Hirsi Ali an anti-Muslim extremist; Hemant Mehta and Ophelia Benson strongly disagree.[22][23] Hilariously, Hirsi Ali's prior comments do very little to support Mehta and Benson's defense of her.[24][25]

Ali's Zionism and involvement in anti-DAESH media campaign[edit]

Like many critics of Islam, she is a supporter of Israel and is sympathetic to Zionism,[26] and in spite of claiming to be an atheist announced at an event hosted by the Israeli Consul General of New York that "one day I hope to convert to Judaism"; it's unclear whether this was a joke or if she was serious.[27]

Ali proclaimed that Benjamin Netanyahu should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his 2014 bombardment of Gaza.[28] Even if this bombardment hadn't been highly dubious (over 500 Palestinian children were killed)[29] it's rather strange to award someone a peace prize for war actions; it's doubtful that this is the sort of "peace" that Alfred Nobel envisioned in 1896. Although, there have been a few worse nominees, and even winners.

Geniuses at the State Department are engaging in a social media campaign—"Think Again, Turn Away"— with the mission of countering DAESH's online recruiting which will surely convince many would-be DAESH supporters. To that end, the campaign's Twitter account has promoted pro-Israel fanatic Ali.[30] As Glenn Greenwald notes, in addition to Ali's apologetics for Israel's policies, "[s]he has spouted some of the most virulent anti-Muslim bigotry." Thus, invoking her to undermine ISIS is absurd:

Can you hear all the Muslim hearts and minds changing throughout the world yet? Other than ISIS, who does the State Department think is going to be remotely excited about and receptive to this message? To combat ISIS’ message, the State Department is promoting someone who has articulated a bloody, vicious vision of global war against Islam that coincides perfectly with ISIS’ greatest dream.

Indeed, ISIS fancies it is prosecuting a global war to bring about a Caliphate, and Ali imagines the West is engaging in a global war against Islam; their chimeras dovetail quite well.

In an interview with Irshad Manji on Fareed Zakaria's show, Ayaan Hirsi Ali unironically proposed Muslims should embrace Christianity because Islam was flawed. It would, in fact, be ironic to advocate replacing bad ideas with more bad ideas. A majority of Catholic theologians believe the doctrines of Jesus are inconsistent with any form of death penalty.[31][32][33] This alone distinguishes Catholicism from the more bloodthirsty demands of Islam.

Statement on Islamic bloodshed[edit]

In March 2015, in a discussion with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Ayaan Hirsi Ali claimed that Islam, as a religion, is "responsible for 70% of all the bloodshed in the world today."[34]

Taking her comments on face value, Islam is most certainly not actually responsible for 70% of bloodshed in the world. Firstly, it's difficult to lay responsibility for violence at any one factor's doorstep. Religion is no exception, because you run into the Thirty Years War problem of there being a multitude of motivating factors that have little if anything to do with religion. Al-Qaeda didn't slam three planes into major US landmarks just because they thought Allah told them to do it; there were a number of largely secular political grievances they had as well.[35][36] Meanwhile, the bloody clashes[37][38] between Al-Qaeda and the even crazier (!) DAESH are motivated by political differences and power-jockeying rather than disagreement over scripture.[39] Meanwhile, the rivalry between the two most infamous Islamic theocracies, Iran and Saudi Arabia is, while exacerbated by religious differences, a coldly political power struggle.[40] In this case, it seems that sectarianism and religion are more tools for the ruling class' political gain than a genuinely-held belief system.[41]

All civil wars, civil wars in Muslim countries and civil wars with Islamist insurgents, 1946–2014.

This ambiguity, that multiple factors make it difficult to lay responsibility for violence at one doorstep, is vital to understand because it explains why "the Muslim world" is so much more prone to violence. When you account for other conflict drivers disproportionately found in the Middle East and Africa (poor economic development, autocracy, oil dependency, outside political interference, and a large percentage of youth), Islam has nothing to do with increased trends of political violence.[42] Outside political interference is perhaps the big one. The last major interstate war in the Muslim world was the Iran-Iraq War which ended in 1988, so the majority of political violence seen today is thus tied to civil wars and insurgencies. Looking further at this, instances of civil wars and insurgencies in Muslim-majority countries slowly tick up during the Cold War, peak around the early 1990s, decrease sharply after that, then shoot through the fucking roof around 2003.[43] It shouldn't take a genius to figure out the reason behind those trends.

Meanwhile, Islam also has nothing to do with murder rates, as most of the world's worst areas are in Central and South America.[44] In fact, Muslim-majority countries interestingly seem to have a significantly lower violent crime rate than much of the rest of the world.[45] And remember, all of this is relevant, as Hirsi Ali specifically framed this as "all bloodshed in the world."

In short, the world is a messy place and some parts are messier than others. Saying that Islam is responsible for 70% of the world's bloodshed is absurd due to the number of other variables involved, many of which seem to exonerate the religion rather than implicate it. It's almost as if people are complicated, and it's almost as if their reasons for fighting can't be summed up in a sentence, a single chart, or shoved into a nice little box.

Funnily enough, her statement is in a way representative of reality if it were supposed to mean that 70% of shed blood in the world is that of Muslims, while conveniently omitting just who exactly is shedding the blood. See: Number of civilians killed in Chechen 1st and 2nd wars (as percentage of population they were genocides), Serbian war crimes in Bosnia and Kosovo, The bodycount by Physicians for Social Responsibility and more recently from Brown University number of killed in Iraq and Afghanistan post 2001, Madeline Aulbright's statement regarding the number of children killed due to sanctions imposed on Iraq prior to 2001, War Crimes in Gulf Wars that include the highway of death, violence against Muslims in India, Rohingya genocide in Burma, Uyghur genocide in China etc, etc.[note 1]

No Muslim politicians are good enough for her[edit]

Ayaan has attacked the squad" (notably singling out liberal progressive Muslim representative Ilhan Omar by writing a long smear piece "Can Ilhan Omar Overcome Her Prejudice?").[46] She also doesn't have kind words for Sadiq Khan, the left-leaning Muslim mayor of London. If Ayaan truly cared about supporting non-violent Muslim reformers she'd be supportive of them, but Ayaan gives away that she couldn't possibly support "the good Muslims."

Reactionary political stances[edit]

Ayaan works for the Hoover Institution (a right-wing think tank) as a research fellow and this makes her positions very predictable.[47] She stood by J.K. Rowling, who has widely been called transphobic.[48] She has retweeted articles that decry Black Lives Matter, because to an out-of-touch reactionary how could systemic racism be real?[49] She is a Trump supporter,[50] and penned an article praising his stance toward Islam[51] and has repeatedly and often defended Trump's actions. No joke, she has actually likened Trump's critics that want to obliterate the influence of Republican party by scoring electoral wins for Democrats to violent extremists.[52] After Trump used Twitter to incite a mob to violently attack the Capitol building on January 6th, 2021 in an attempt to terrorize Congress into giving him the election, Ayaan illustrated the slippery slope fallacy and tweeted, "Silencing Trump is dumb and dangerous. OK, go ahead and ban us all!".[53]

She is hostile toward critical race theory and liberal students.[54][55][56] She often retweets sensational or misleading op-eds about cancel culture or woke culture from Quillette and other right-wing media.[57]


In November 2023 Ali declared she became a Christian, because "Atheism can't equip us for civilizational war", in a screed that oddly mentioned nothing about Jesus.[58] There's a pretty strong case to be made that at least one of the reasons for this move is that there's better money made among Christian nationalist circles than among atheists.[59] Ali has worked for the Koch-funded "American Enterprise Institute" before,[60] so Ali being a typical right-wing grifter isn't all that surprising.[59]

See also[edit]


  1. Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Extremist
  2. https://www.zeit.de/online/2006/20/niederlande_hirsi_ali_integration/komplettansicht
  3. http://reason.com/archives/2007/10/10/the-trouble-is-the-west
  4. Gawker.com: archive.is, web.archive.org
  5. http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/12/ayaan_hirsi_ali_gives_birth_to.php
  6. https://twitter.com/Ayaan/status/1327495352472137728
  7. https://unherd.com/2023/11/why-i-am-now-a-christian/
  8. http://www.alternet.org/media/anti-islam-author-ayaan-hirsi-alis-latest-deception
  9. http://zembla.vara.nl/seizoenen/2006/afleveringen/11-05-2006/extras/the-holy-ayaan/
  10. Islam-Kritikerin: Hirsi Ali verlässt die Niederlande (in German)
  11. http://www.volkskrant.nl/leven/hirsi-ali-gelooft-in-toveren~a720031/
  12. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/03/international/europe/03dutch.html
  13. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3974179.stm
  14. http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324767004578486931383069840?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424127887324767004578486931383069840.html
  15. Surprise! Ayaan Hirsi Ali is exposed as a L I A R
  16. More on Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  17. http://theelders.org/article/meeting-child-brides-ethiopia
  18. http://www.cfr.org/peace-conflict-and-human-rights/child-marriage/p32096#!/?cid=otr_marketing_use-child_marriage_Infoguide#!%2F
  19. https://www.aei.org/?s=abortion
  20. https://thinkprogress.org/conservative-think-tank-scholar-promotes-claim-that-norway-terrorist-attacked-because-he-was-a83b862d8dc7#.jk849q5wg
  21. http://www1.cbn.com/content/risking-her-life-expose-islam
  22. Southern Poverty Law Center: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz Are “Anti-Muslim Extremists”
  23. Bad move SPLC
  24. http://reason.com/archives/2007/10/10/the-trouble-is-the-west
  25. http://www.cc.com/shows/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart/interviews/gndgo0/exclusive-ayaan-hirsi-ali-extended-interview
  26. http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/ayaan-hirsi-ali-condemns-hypocrisy-anti-israel-campus-protesters
  27. http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/short-takes/hirsi-ali-still-defiant-against-islam-judaism-her-future
  28. http://www.salon.com/2014/08/04/ayan_hirsi_ali_bibi_netanyahu_deserves_nobel_peace_prize_for_gaza_campaign/
  29. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/04/gaza-fallout-understand-crimes-150420130139305.html
  30. https://theintercept.com/2015/12/15/when-the-state-department-tries-to-choose-muslim-thought-leaders-to-win-hearts-and-minds/
  31. http://www.learnthebible.org/would-jesus-oppose-the-death-penalty.html
  32. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVeiT0DHej0
  33. Christianity is totally better...
  34. Ayaan Hirsi Ali discusses new book 'Heretic' Fox News. March 24, 2015. (quote begins at 0:38)

    I say it's not a religion of peace now because if, as a religion, you're responsible for 70% of all the bloodshed in the world today then you possibly cannot be a religion of peace but it could become a religion of peace if we make some changes

  35. The Twenty Years’ War Tierney, Dominic. The Atlantic. AUG 23, 2016
  36. Osama bin Laden's Declaration of War Osama bin Laden, Wikisource.
  37. Activists say ISIS top commander killed in Syria Al Arabiya News 8 February 2014
  38. Senior Al-Qaeda figure killed by ISIS The Daily Star. Feb. 24, 2014
  39. Comparing Al Qaeda and ISIS: Different goals, different targets Daniel L. Byman April 29, 2015
  40. Why Saudi Arabia and Iran are bitter rivals Marcus, Johnathan. BBC. 18 November 2017
  41. The Politics of Secterianism Project on Middle East Political Science. November 13, 2013
  42. Are Muslim countries more prone to violence? Nils Petter Gleditsch, Ida Rudolfsen. Research and Politics (Research & Politics (RAP) is a peer-reviewed, open access journal, which focusses on research in political science and related fields.) First Published May 11, 2016. Volume: 3 issue: 2. Page 6.
  43. Gleditsch and Rudolfsen, 2016. Pages 3-4.
  44. Murder Rate By Country World Atlas. Jan 11, 2018
  45. This study obliterates the myth that Muslims are more violent Zack Beauchamp. Vox. Jan 30, 2015
  46. https://www.wsj.com/articles/can-ilhan-omar-overcome-her-prejudice-11562970265
  47. https://web.archive.org/web/20201124233802/https://www.hoover.org/profiles/ayaan-hirsi-ali
  48. https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/1280826374991884289
  49. https://twitter.com/Ayaan/status/698195146618314753
  50. https://twitter.com/Ayaan/status/1316426106560417793
  51. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-immigration-ban_b_58933c0de4b070cf8b80d970
  52. https://twitter.com/Ayaan/status/1325963126488010752
  53. Silencing Trump is dumb and dangerous. OK, go ahead and ban us all! by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (3:36 PM · Jan 8, 2021) Twitter (archived from January 11, 2021).
  54. https://twitter.com/Ayaan/status/1289688303579492353
  55. https://twitter.com/Ayaan/status/1301735053580328960
  56. https://twitter.com/Ayaan/status/1303455772706209793
  57. Wokeness is the new American cultural imperialism, writes @tunkuv. Just ask Adele. Think about it: the woke are now dictating to women how they should or should not style their hair. Bizarre. by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (2:47 PM - 2 Sep 2020) Twitter (archived from September 2, 2020).
  58. Why I am now a Christian Ayaan Hirsi Ali (November 11, 2023) Unherd
  59. 59.0 59.1 Is anybody surprised that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Christian now?[a w]Pinkerite
  60. https://www.aei.org/profile/ayaan-hirsi-ali/


  1. This should give you something to think about the next time American Christians whine about being "persecuted".