Enlightenment versus Oppression
AEI Newsletter

In February, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s memoir Infidel was released in the United States. A bestseller across Europe, Infidel is the story of her journey from growing up as a Muslim in the upheaval of east Africa to becoming a prominent member of the Dutch parliament and a campaigner for women’s rights.

As her family moved from Somalia to Saudi Arabia and Kenya, she experienced the collision of the modern West with the ancient tribal culture of Somali clans and the rigid ideology of Wahhabi Islam. Although fervently religious as a teenager, she became increasingly disillusioned with the oppressive character of Islam. When forced into an arranged marriage like so many other girls she had known, Hirsi Ali fled to the Netherlands, where she attended college, worked as an interpreter and researcher, and was eventually elected to parliament.

In 2004, Hirsi Ali wrote the screenplay for Submission, a short film about violence against women justified in the name of Islam. She received numerous threats on her life and went into hiding after the director of the film, Theo van Gogh, was killed on the streets of Amsterdam by an angry Muslim. The book ends with her return to parliament in 2005.

Infidel is no mere autobiography; it also relates Hirsi Ali’s intellectual enlightenment, as she learned to value the “open society” and to question the tenets of her childhood religion. In an epilogue, she writes of what animates her research and continued advocacy: “My central, motivating concern is that women in Islam are oppressed. . . . It creates a culture that generates more backwardness with every generation. It would be better for everyone--for Muslims, above all--if this situation could change.”

For more information about this book, visit www.aei.org/book870/.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Constitution as political theory

Please join us for the third-annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture as James Ceasar, Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, explores some of the Constitution’s most significant contributions to political theory, focusing on themes that have been largely unexamined in current scholarship.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 8:10 a.m. – Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 1:30 p.m.
Third international conference on housing risk: New risk measures and their applications

We invite you to join us for this year’s international conference on housing risk — cosponsored by the Collateral Risk Network and AEI International Center on Housing Risk — which will focus on new mortgage and collateral risk measures and their applications.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Speaker of the House John Boehner on resetting America’s economic foundation

Please join us as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his five-point policy vision to reset America’s economy.

Friday, September 19, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Reforming Medicare: What does the public think?

Please join us as a panel of distinguished experts explore the implications of the report and the consumer role in shaping the future of Medicare.

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