Ayaan Hirsi Ali (born Ayaan Hirsi Magan 13 November 1969 in Somalia) is a Dutch feminist, writer, and politician. She is the estranged daughter of the Somali scholar, politician, and revolutionary opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse. She is a prominent critic of Islam, and her screenplay for Theo Van Gogh's movie Submission led to death threats. Since van Gogh's assassination by a Muslim extremist in 2004, she has lived in seclusion under the protection of Dutch authorities.
When she was eight, her family left Somalia for Saudi Arabia, then Ethiopia, and eventually settled in Kenya. She sought and obtained political asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, under circumstances that later became the center of a political controversy. In 2003 she was elected a member of the House of Representatives (the lower house of the Dutch parliament), representing the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). A political crisis surrounding the potential stripping of her Dutch citizenship led to her resignation from the parliament, and led indirectly to the fall of the second Balkenende cabinet.
She is currently a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, working from an unknown location in the Netherlands. In 2005, she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.She has also received several awards for her work, including Norway's Human Rights Service's Bellwether of the Year Award, the Danish Freedom Prize, the Swedish Democracy Prize, and the Moral Courage Award for commitment to conflict resolution, ethics, and world citizenship. Recently, in a book review of her novel titled "Infidel" posted on the summer reading list for the Middle East Strategy at Harvard website, Joshua Muravchik described it as "simply a great work of literature," even comparing her to the great novelist Joseph Conrad.
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