Anyone interested in Christopher Hitchens will likely appreciate activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s most recent book, Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now. Ayaan was born in Somalia, but escaped her repressive upbringing, and a bumpy road (she was working with Danish cartoonist Theo Van Gogh when he was killed), and became an activist. In Heretic she asserts that Islam must be reformed, and that change can come only from within the religion. She then lays out recommendations for how such reform can be achieved. Not surprisingly, this has irritated some. Brandies University, in a sad move for a learning institution, revoked it’s offer to give her an honorary degree (New York Times: Brandeis Cancels Plan to Give Honorary Degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Critic of Islam). The University caved in to pressure from those calling her anti-Islam. Hitchens warned on many occasions, that the day would come where one would not even be able to criticize Islam without being called an Islamophobe. We are there.
Ayaan and Christopher had a connection. He contributed the forward to her 2008 book Infidel and also wrote about her in an piece for Slate Magazine in 2007 (She’s No Fundamentalist: What people get wrong about Ayaan Hirsi Ali).
Ayaan was scheduled to participate in the original meeting of the so called Four Horseman (the provocative informal two-hour discussion with Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris) but had to cancel at the last minute. She did, however, participate in a follow up event with the same group (minus Christopher of course) at the 2012 Global Atheist Convention, in Australia. Dawkins welcomed her as a Horsewoman.
In the clip below, Ayaan responds to a question by Mr. Hitchens at the 2007 at the American Enterprise Institute.
If you want to learn more about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, visit the site of her foundation, the AHA Foundation, which aims to put an end to honor violence, forced marriages and female genital mutilation.