UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Nomad

Somali-born author addresses diversity in the 21st century

By Pieta Woolley


Nomad
By Ayaan Hirsi Ali
(Knopf Canada) $32



To Islamic extremists, provocateur Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s memoirs invite rage and promote death threats. To diversity-loving Canadians, this volume will undoubtedly invoke hand wringing.

Nomad is the Somali-born Hirsi Ali’s second memoir in three years. It’s a skilful genre for her. She keeps her readers riveted with personal stories, which include surviving genital mutilation and other violence at the hands of her tribal Islamic family. She lashes at Islam — and blasts the West’s unquestioning dedication to multiculturalism.

Hirsi Ali’s point is this: the core values of Islam with regard to sex, money and violence are fundamentally at odds with the core values of modern Europe and North America. Not just radical Islam or fundamentalist Islam. The Muslim religion, atheist Hirsi Ali argues, is the problem.

Islam’s existence depends on subjugating women, holding wealth communally and silencing dissent through violence, she argues. And westerners won’t face it. Concerned about cultural sensitivity, western leaders hesitate to criticize practices such as honour killings and mutilation. Plus, western countries are vulnerable to jihadist attacks because most Muslim immigrants won’t leave those values behind and integrate, she states.

In Nomad, Hirsi Ali took on a huge project. Ultimately, her weighty argument depends too much on personal anecdote, and she doesn’t offer enough balance to help her readers fully process her arguments. Also, given that she’s an atheist, it’s difficult to take seriously her prescriptions for how Muslims can modify their values but still keep their faith.

Hirsi Ali turned 40 last month. As a former member of the Dutch parliament and current fellow at the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute, she’s bound to extend her influence. Despite her book’s over-ambition, it’s a useful read for anyone grappling with diversity in the 21st century.

Pieta Woolley is a freelance writer in Vancouver.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image

Society

July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots

World

June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.

Justice

June 2017

Undocumented

by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.

World

June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.

Society

April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image