Following up on Marie Claire’s Mecca Stars, Ayaan Hirsi Ali
A friend who visits my blog and who has a subscription to Marie Claire dropped by on Saturday to bring me the latest issue, February 2007.
She had read my post on the Marie Claire’s Mecca Stars article from the December issue. Of course my friend was outraged over the glamorizing of the hijab. She wrote to Marie Claire asking that they cancel her subscription but she’s still receiving the mags (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?).
The latest issue has two letters to the editor, one deploring the work conditions endured by the workers who build the shopping malls in Dubai, and another one talking about how empowered the veiled women really are. Nothing new there.
On the last page of the magazine there’s an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose book Infidel has come out, where she says, (emphasis added)
Q: As a Somali-born member of the Dutch parliament, you spoke out about how Islam violated women’s rights.
A: People were hearing immigrants say the same thing [about assimilation] over and over. I said, “Certain things about Muslim culture, the way we treat our women and practice our faith, make it difficult for us to assimilate into Dutch society.” It caused a huge commotion, which I have not been able to recover from in Holland.
Q: In Infidel, you write about your grandmother overseeing your genital mutilation in Somalia when you were 5. Was this typical for little girls there?
A: There are 6,000 girls mutilated very day, according to the UN., 135 million girls have been mutilated. Those who practice it see it as cleansing. I try to explain in the book how my grandmother believed she was doing us a big favor.
Q: In the Netherlands, as a refugee from a forced marriage, you gradually discarded Muslim attire and, at 22, bought your first pair of jeans. How did that feel?
A: Like jumping to the top of Mount Everest. On one hand, I thought I was sinning and would end up tortured in hell – if I put on jeans, or uncovered my hair or any part of my skin, I might drive strange men into a frenzy. On the other hand, I’d be able to ride a bicycle.
Q: What do you say to Muslim women who fight for the right to wear the head scarf?
A: I say that’s fine – unless you impose your personal choice on others. If you wear the veil, the message you convey is that you’re superior to women who do not, because you’re saying they are whores. You’re also saying men are incapable of sexual self-restraint, and that if they see women who are partly covered or not veiled, they will react like my grandmother’s he-goat.
I haven’t found the interview on the Marie Claire website, but if/when I do, I’ll post the link.
Christopher Hitchens wrote about Ms Ali last May, before she was forced to leave the Netherlands.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book, Infidel, is available from Amazon:
Update, 24 January: Welcome, Andrew Sullivan readers.