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

A perfect send-off

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: A Tale of Two Cancers

by Observer Staff

Catherine Gordon's October 2017 feature for The Observer, 'A tale of two cancers,' recently caught the eye of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and his Washington, D.C.-based team, and inspired a short documentary. Gordon talks about the experience of writing the article and participating in the film.

Promotional Image

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

October 2017

A tale of two cancers

by Catherine Gordon

One year after the writer discovered she had breast cancer, her sister in California received the same diagnosis. They both recovered, but their experiences were worlds apart.

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

November 2017

Grey matter

by Trisha Elliott

Is consciousness just a function of the brain — or something more?

Promotional Image