Two Girls and a Podcast: Ayan Hirsi Ali, Cultural Critic?

Welcome back for our second instalment of ‘let me count the ways in which Fatuma and I can bring pain to your ears’ or better known as our weekly podcast sessions. This week will be a tad bit controversial to say the least, as we will be discussing one of the most polarizing figures to come out of Somalia since the samosa. We’ve decided to tackle the Ayan Hirsi Ali (a tired conversation, but hardly addressed by Somalis) and really wanted to dissect and engage that silence. We would like to invite you to partake in this conversation, and give us your input, your frustrations, and your analysis on not only this discussion, but on the entire concept of the’ native informant’. A few disclaimers; Firstly, the internet wouldn’t let us be great, and attempting to coordinate a podcast session from two different continents is a lesson in sado-maschocism, so patience is appreciated. Secondly, I (@idiauslander) am notorious for my desecration of the english language with generous usage of profanity, and odd sentence structures. It’s my fancy way of saying ‘I swear alot and talk beaucoup shit) and that we want this project to be as authentic to our real voices and reduce usage of academic jargon (I used paradigm three times, sue me), and hope this set up does not take away from our arguments and conversation. With that said, enjoy, and look forward to your comments, critics, insight, trolling, etc. Bon Appetit!


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55 thoughts on “Two Girls and a Podcast: Ayan Hirsi Ali, Cultural Critic?

  1. ayaan hirsi, alshabab, saudia, conservative think-tanks and the likes are bigoted conservatives whose natural instincts is to control and manipulate the individual. birds of the same feathers who are really distorting the essential conversation that rational, peace-loving individuals need to have. we need a serious conversation that will move us forward to a progressive society. ayaan hirsi’s understanding of islam is the same understanding that the alshabab and the saudis have. anyone who has some knowledge of islam can easily see that this is a fabrication and a distortion. i really find it difficult to present a counter argument on a distorted premise.

    i’ll say this, though, the majority of muslims do not live in the middle east (or the burkah lands) but in many countries that have a liberal political outlook with an inclusive view to modernity and the free-will of the individual. in ayaan hirsi’s and al shabab’s world the individual will be smothered and restrained with chains of dogmas. ayaan hirsi regurgitates the same imperial dogmas that the ‘white man’ (imperial conservatives alas niall ferguson & co.) has used to rob off the world. we are not blind or stupid. this is a period that the world has passed over and assigned to the dust bin of history.

    this is my initial reaction to the topic (the distracting ayaan hirsi).

    • Well said! I love your commentary on how Ayan Hirsi’s account, and acounts like hers are really a liberal reiteration of Islamist paradigms. I mean, do ideas not change? how did christianity go from that to this? Reformation is an integral process in cultural/religious revival. I think she’s right in that islam and muslims need a renaissance, but how can moderate voices challenge this institution if we’re already rendered Islam as incapable of progress and movement? She’s weaved quite the story here, and I’m not buying it.

    • i couldn’t agree more. It’s like “shut up i’m talking and no you are not allowed to question anything” i also agree with both speakers, yes Ayan brings light to some issues that need to be talked about however its the way she does it that turns many people (esp. Somalis) off. for this reason nor do i hate or love Ayan and im competely against people who want to harm her, everytime she states “islam is complete violence” these type of people all prove her right.

  2. Hey ladies,

    Well, I enjoyed part two of this series of podcasts! Regarding Ayaan Hersi Ali though, what can I say? Well, personally, I think she is a ***** ***** ***** ******* ****** and also a ***** ***** ******* *** ***** – I’m just kidding.

    You’re right though, I especially liked Fatuma’s point where she goes that Ayaan is ruining it for herself with her use of language and alienating the ones she is trying to reach. I’m not sure if it’s the Muslims she’s trying to reach though. As Idil said, she is smart, we shouldn’t underestimate her ‘intellectual prowess’ (im quoting here) – but the aspects which make her controversial and much-hated by Muslims and much-praised or given a platform to speak on by the West are the same. Her strongest selling point is also her biggest weakness. So is she really trying to speak to the muslims or just about the muslims, but to the west?

    Those things aside, loved the podcast, and perhaps one of you two can take this woman on in a debate! 😀

    Stay Blessed!

    • LOL Hamza, unfortunately, Ayan is quite the intellectual beast, and couldn’t take her on if i tried, but I do believe there are voices, pundits, cultural theorist who could challenge her in way that opens up the dialogue to more marginalized voices.

      I also agree that her strongest selling point is her biggest weakness, and like Fatuma said, she misses a wonderful opportunity to really challenge illiberal institutions by choosing to alienate the same voices she seeks to defend.

  3. Airing dirty laundry is as important as confronting the dogma that’s holding us (Somalis and Muslims) back. Ayan Hersi is a victim of her society, as such, one should appreciate her views in the larger context of the cruel world she lives in. If my genitals were removed, raped (forced marriage), and then told to be silent, then, I may have been so traumatized and may have reacted like the way Ayaan did. With that in mind, I don’t appreciate her approach of the problem. The victims like Ayaan Hersi aren’t Western women but Muslim women, and if her initial concern is to speak for the voiceless she would know better by intelligently speaking for the voiceless. Ayaan offends the very victims she claims to speak for and gives ammunition to their oppressors; the religious fanatics of the Muslim world. The net balance of Ayaan’s contribution to the liberation of women in the Islamic world is negative at best which seems an oxymoron. Keep up the great work ladies!!!

    • Ozma,

      I love the twist you have added to this debate. Identifying the oppressors of Muslim women as the “religious fanatics of the Muslim world” whereas everyone else is focusing blame on the white Western man! Thanks for that.

  4. I think (bobthebuilder) highlighted most of the points I wanted to point out. I don’t understand why the host would not challenge the misuse and abuse of religion text? The main reason why this lady is hated around the world specially in the Somali community is not how she positions civilization between east and west or her critic views of the Somali culture. I’ve noticed how Fatuma is sympathizing the fact that Ayan identified Islam with violent. The violent within Somali households or community has nothing to do with Islam.

    • Thanks for stopping by Ahmed,

      The issue of engaging religious text is pretty tricky, as neither Fatuma and I aren’t theologians who possess the tools to intellectually un package all that. Also giving objective interpretations of any , where it be theology or literature is a lesson in futile. How two scholars look at a particular surat is not coherent, and i think that’s why we avoided that, but i tried to point out how the her misunderstanding of the complexities of religious text is problematic. But i agree, there has to be scholars who challenge her on that. Unfortunately, totally out of our depth there as most of us are not qualified theological scholars.

      I’ll let fatuma reply to your critique, but i’ll remember you that Fatuma never said islam was violent, I think she said Somalis (who are muslims) have a violent history and present. Do you dispute that we have an unhealthy relationship with human rights and peace? I’ll agree that it has nothing to do with Islam!

      • Thanks ladies for your bravery to open a civic discussion of such a nature. I really believe you are truely brave. Thank you.

  5. Faduma really exhausts the same point, and I feel you guys are revisiting a debate where the audience isn’t too clued up on how different your opinions are. Maybe the edge missing was hearing the clear theological opinions of the 2 speakers – particularly Faduma. It’s a good listen – thank you.

    • Hi Dalia,

      thanks for stopping by. We really avoided the theological discussion as it I think it’s been a very convenient tool for many to mask the greater implications of Ayan’s statements (muslim societies are stagnant, repulsive, illiberal), and religious debates are quite futile IMO (usually ends up with accusations of who can speak rightly for Islam). Also, I think by us disclosing our religious views, people can make judgements that have little to do with our arguments and can instead said ‘oh so she’s a shia, no wonder’. I think it’s possible to have these discussions without retorting to one’s particular religious background, after all, her arguments are a challenge to an entire region that she depicts as singular and essentialist….and also, when many people ask women from our background to reveal our theological opinions, it usually means ‘are you an atheist?’ LOL. but definitely appreciate your critique, and agree that paying attention to the issue of theology can be useful in navigating these debates.

  6. First of all: Thanks for this podcast ladies, it was indeed a great listen.
    I believe the lid should be lifted on the treatments of women, homophobia, human rights etc, so in that regard I believe Ayaan Hirsi Ali´s criticisms of muslim societes are legitimate, albeit reductionist. What I disagree with is the way she has chosen to go about things. Her arguments and rhetoric are packaged for an audience that´s different from the one she´s trying to change; the muslims.Her audience are westerners who love to hear about how superior they are.
    I also disagree with how Ayaan Hirsi Ali takes the liberty of labelling anyone who doesn´t fit her stereotyped image of a muslim as a “non-parcticising muslim” as she did to Zeba Khan in a debate. When she does that, she´s no different from the very Islamists she´s criticizing.

    I don´t know what to say about the “Native Informant” paradigm in this particular case. I´m speaking as a Somali woman who is very familiar with the pressure to culturally conform and with not having a space within your own community to discuss things openly. If we deem people from deeply patriachal cultures who tell their stories to be “Native Informants”, are we not then becoming accomplices to the injustice? At the end of the day, those who have a vested interest in sustaining the prevailing cultural hegemony are the ones who will benefit the most by labelling anyone who speak out against them “Native Informant”. Having said all of that I think many of Ayaan Hirsi Ali´s conclusions are simplistic, ánd reductionist. It´s not as black and white and as “east vs west” as she makes it to be, being the intelligent woman that she is, I believe she must know it too.

    Thanks for your interesting and thought-provoking podcast ladies.

  7. Dear Dalia and Xasna,

    Dalia, I hear you re exhausting same point, thanks for pointing that out. I think Idil has responded to your points well and just to emphasize, theology isn’t our area and we stayed clear of it.

    Xasna,

    I couldn’t have put it better, the lid should be lifted, indeed. And not only on women but on the countless issues we as Somalis have ‘disallowed’ to be debated openly. And yes, the ‘native informant’ concept, it was all Idilay, lol. I don’t like the term, it is too tight a box. Am really glad you came online and left a comment. It is all too easy to see Ayaan as an evil person who has betrayed Somalis but I see her as someone who had the courage to speak up, and made some mess in the process.

    Thank you ladies and hope you tune in next week.

  8. Hi Shalongo,

    Apologies. We had experienced a tech problem due to a heavy traffic to the site but have just managed to restored it. Thanks for your patience and happy listening.

  9. Jeez ladies, where to start? Wonderful conversation, and engaging on so many different levels. I agree with you both —

    I feel that for Somalis there isn’t a lot of room for the critical discussions we need to be having (re: Islam and our society) and that a lot of that has to do with the ‘savage’ vision of Somalis that Ali has served up to the West. I feel like if you (as a Somali citizen, at home and in the diaspora) are insulted continually with thinly veiled racist rhetoric that completely sells us out (and upholds this sort of genuflection before the altar of Eurocentrism) it becomes a kind of self fulfilling prophecy. I know I’m sometimes all too willing to attack her (not wish rape on her or anything like that …) but other sorts of ad hominem attacks on her person just to show exactly how ‘barbaric’ me and my people are, ha. It makes us feel better because it’s especially painful to see that coming from one of us, I think.

    And that’s a shame, because self-fulfilling prophecies (particularly around race and the manifold assumptions/expectations that lie therein) act to occlude the actual conversation which, as you guys pointed out, is so so necessary. We need to be (and some of us are) considering our place in the world, our place within Islam, and things like sexualized violence within our communities as you two mentioned.

    Also, as Fatuma mentioned, I appreciate that Ali has (however violently) forced the conversation and the dialogue around “Somaliness” to include things like feminism and atheism where there may not have been as much room before. I definitely think that there needs to be room for flexibility within the Somali identity to include things like Somali feminism (which Ali is so not the first to do but probably the most famous — again PROBLEMATIC). AND (brace yourselves) Somali atheism! It exists and she is fucking brave to assert that so boldly (and at a risk to her own life)!

    In conclusion, while I would really love for there to be more dialogue about atheism — I find atheist discourses (at least mainstream ones) to be really awful. Atheism seems to me to be about laughing at religious people and putting down religion as somehow culturally ‘inferior’. I mean Christopher Hitchens called us “semi-stupefied peasants in desert regions”. NOT COOL.

    My friend Tendisai linked me to this article which is critical of this sort of militant secularism: http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/atheologies/5941/coming_out_as_a_heretic/

    But bottom line: people need to be free to think critically about these issues on both sides and I don’t see a whole lot of that happening, sadly.

    • I love your point about how she’s redefined ‘somaalinimo’ by creating a space that can include atheists, mushriks, and other undesirables. You’re right, in many ways, she has taken the pressures out of coming out as anything but a muslim and/or adhering to muslim values. I love that about her, definitely. I think a conversation on what ‘Somaalinimo’ means is a necessary conversation. We have people who believe one must conform to a list of certain criteria before we confer the title of ‘authentic somalinimo’ which is shite.

      and your part about self-fulfilling prophecies is also spot on! The irony in violent reactions to accusations of perceived/real violent behaviour is just…facepalm.
      I think many people think that my fiery dismal of Hirsi as a critic means I disagree with many of her arguments, infact I think she has many valid positions, and issues we need to tackle. However, it’s her tone, her intention, and her audience I take issue with.

      Ultimately, we can all agree that she has redefined what it means to be a Somali woman like never before. The implications of that are up for debate IMO.

  10. I agree with Fatuma that it doesn’t take much for a Somali/Muslim to sign her death warrant and that the problems that Ayan uses to back up her claims are real- where I disagree with Fatuma and think Idil has been pointing out in the discussion is that Ayan Hirsi has done the Somali woman a service- I don’t see how a bunch of Cadaan people pitying me and thinking of my beloved prophet as the terrible person Ayan Hirsi paints him is a service is to me or a young Somali woman- understood that Ayan is intelligent, independent, accomplished- but you forget that knowledge that leads to arrogance and Atheism is not exemplary- especially when she is knowingly exploiting the ills in our society to make money from it- what she does makes it hard for women and women who wake up everyday to tackle our problems just harder… Fatuma says Ayan lost her voice the moment she spoke up- that is partly due to our society’s suppression of Women speaking up but the way in which Ayan talked about the issues also contribute to her silencing- as Idil said in Ayan’s narrative we are all oppressed women and oppressive men and the solution lies in becoming Atheist and copying West.
    Ayan Hirsi has done NO service for Somali women- Fatuma says: “if she had not done…” but she has- and whole thing is a farce- a freaking profitable farce that shamelessly goes on- I agree with Fatuma again that Ayan has the right to her opinion and be debated in a civil way without body guards- but I think Fatuma gives her too much credit when she says that Ayan would not have wanted such a life- what if saying I have bodyguards raises the book sale by 500% – we need to have a discussion and air our dirty laundry in the open but not to make money from it and silence the ones suffering.

    (29:30) Idil Bilan- you are complete and beautiful as your name! Our people accept criticism when it is coming from a place of respect and love.

    • Hi Warda,

      U raise so many interesting issues. We all have different priorities, yours seems to be your faith, mine (Fatuma) is freedom of expression. To this end, Ayaan Hirsi has paved the way for Somali girls to claim back their voices. I admire her for that and irrespective of whether we like what someone stands for or not, we can’t deny they contribution to instigating a much needed frank and honest discussion. I really believe until we are able to speak our mind without fear of retribution, we address issues close to our hearts that might be taboo in Somali culture, until we are able to agree to disagree or respectfully/calmly disagree, we are not going to have a lasting peace in Somalia.

      “Knowledge that leads to arrogance is not exemplary”, I can go along with that, but if knowledge leads one to Atheism, that is their personal choice, I am not in a place to judge.

      I am amused by this assumption that Ayaan is “exploiting our ills” to make money!! How do we know this? I thought it was a good Muslim practice to not judge and assume what is in other people’s heart? No one but Ayaan knows what her intentions are so it is easier to focus on what she says, that is my thinking.

      I totally agree with you on the point that Somali society suppresses women to speak, hence my admiration for Ayaan’s gutsy outspokenness.

      LOL@the her having bodyguards increasing the book sells. You just gave me an idea on how to get myself published, lol.

      Thanks for the respectful disagreement and the challenge. I look forward to debating more soon.

  11. Well done, girls! This is certainly an issue that we should address (properly). There is, indeed, much to admire or loathe about the phenomenon Ayaan Xirsi. She’s an intellectual and, as such, she’s massive chances and channels at her disposal to make a gigantic impact on the community she supposedly represents and wants to reform – a centuries overdue and direly pressing reform, may I add.

    I can try to spaciously dwell on the issue. However, when all is said and done, the most relevant question is imo: What has the mountain delivered? Time will tell but, so far and mildly put, AXC’s legacy is brilliant for her fame and fortune… and imo utterly deplorable for her presumed focus group; specially so for Somali/Muslim women!

    Let me introduce a sister/mother from whom Ayaan, myself and most of us can learn a lot.

    Dalka haystaa aan idiinka haajirnee
    Haween waa duul jannaa oo dakana magalo
    Nin doorka ma dilaan iyo wiilkii ay dhaleen
    Daban intay kuu dhigaan ruuxna kuma dagaan
    Dulmi ma qaataan oo xaaraan ma dadabsadaan
    Ee ragow dabkaad shiddaan baan ku daadanaa
    Xiliga aan joogno ragu waa inuu hubsado
    Ama dalkii haysta aan idinka haarjirnee

    Dadaalku markuu habsaamoo waanu hiilnaa
    Kama harnee nimanka hareertan kataaganahay
    Heshiiska iyo nabada horay bann utaagannahay
    Hannaankii dawladnimo heegan baan unnahay
    Wixii aan hubino haan baad ku aaburtaan
    Dheeftii aan helilahaa baad hamboobsataan
    Haween baad-tahaye hoos u foorarso baad
    dhahdaanHadaynnaan hubin hawshaan ku aadannahay
    Heshiiska iyo xeerka aan haatan lagu salaysnayn
    Raggow waan kaahurudnayee waa inoo hadaba

    Canab Xasan, the composer of this buraanbur, is an illiterate nomadic woman. Some people, including AXC, would possibly call her a barbarian. Canab took the stage at the Constitutional Conference in Garowe in 1998. When she finished reciting her powerful and passionate poem, the ALL-MALE-elders were in tears and tatters. RESOUNDING RESULT, thanks to this “barbarian” soft power: Women were immediately allocated permanent seats in Puntland’s parliament.

    Bottom line: Degrees, diplomas, awards… are not always written in “khadka murtida” (Wisdom’s ink / font / template…).

    Mahad iyo salaan ballaadhan!

    PS. Dr. Hawa Abdi you refer to in the podcast has recently been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Way to go!

    PPS. The main reason why many Somalis are angry with AXC is imo the vile characters/crimes she attributes to her family. For example, she wrote in her bio that she’s often been mistreated/tortured by her grandmother. According to cognoscenti, the said granny was already dead befor AXC was even born!!! In any case, we all know that the Somali culture vest smore value on family, and specially (grand-)mothers, than on anything else – including religion.

    • Cumar, Wow! I have never heard of Canab Xasan but now I know, thanks to you. OK, I had to read the poem few times to get the point and even tho am not into poems, this one got my attention and I will share it with other Somalis sisters. You are spot on about the simplification of educated Vs illiterate (I refuse to use the B word Ayaan uses, even tho I am her fan).

      I, Fatuma, work with very poor rural communities and Internally Displaced People from the South of Somalia currently in Mogadishu. Majority of these are women and I am amazed at their courage, clear thinking and eloquence, and 90% of them can’t read or write. I would choose to work with these unassuming women over most ‘educated’ Somalis in the Diaspora. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a beef with Diaspora Somalis, I am one, but I was also guilty of assuming educated folks are more rational and reasonable until I got back and met some women way brighter than my 2-penny degree, it is a humbling experience.

      Having said all that, I still think we shouldn’t dismiss Ayaan or any other person because they hold views we disagree with. She got few things wrong but she also raised a lot of issues we are still unable to address.

      It was a real pleasure to read your comments, I am now off to google everything I can about Canab Xasan. Thanks for sharing that touching poem of hers.

      • Walaal Fatuma, you’re def. right. Dismissing relevant views is like running away from a bullet that’s already been fired. Everybody is entitled to their own opinions and the wise can only discuss or keep silent. You’re doing a fine job at that!

        You may not find much about Canab Xasan online. Her immense and effective oral wisdom and talent notwithstanding, she’s not
        a published/ing netizen – damn analphabetism! Here is a link to an essential book containing the poem: http://tinyurl.com/bwvwn3z

        Is it posiible to to download the podcast for those of us/Ipodians who lack time and/or patience to listen on th PC? Thanks!

      • Thanks a mil, Cumar, for the link! Very kind of you. We def need documentation of stuff like this, we can all learn from it and just enjoy their elegance.

        We are working on getting the podcast downloadable as we are both also ‘iPodians’ lol. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to listen so thanks for pointing this out. Will keep you posted on when we manage to do that. We are learning basics as we go.

  12. Ayan Hersi is irrelevant, I cant even dislike her, I think she is opportunist, she took advantage of the Islamaphobia that is rive in the West. She expresses views that even hardline Westerners couldnt, and for that they love her, hence her success.

    • Hodo, are you sure she is irrelevant? You comments don’t seem to agree with your sentiments. She is a pain in the backside, wud have been more accurate, lol. She is very relevant in pissing us off out of our coma and pretension that all Somalis are the same, bother and sisters, Muslims. We are not! We are individuals who will take different stands on issues and about time we dropped the ‘homogeneous’ mask we’ve been hiding behind. If you gonna shoot back, it is Fatuma not Idilay, lol. Peace.

      • Hey Fatuma, lol I totally agree, we are individuals, but no I am sure that she is irrelevant atleast to me, 1. Because I doubt very much that she would have gained any success in the west, if she wasn’t regurgitating the tired old clash of civilazations rhetoric, and if she wasnt brainless enough to be used as an instrument that more or less to say that which hardliners couldnt say without being called a racist/bigot/ect. So no brownie points from me for her so called success. 2. Because I cant respect her work, her written work about Islam intellectualy unsound, has no basis, and like Idilay said is misused. and oddly most of her critique of Islam is based on her family,- 3. Because Ayan has done nothing for the Somali muslim woman living in Europe, (other than maybe further Islamaphobia) she is not of her, and she doesnt speak for her, therefore irrelevant. 3,. Because I am not being hypersensitive, (atleast I dont think I am) I just have no respect for her as a person, she lacks integrity and I find her a little self indulgent. Now I have to ask myself is she relevant because you and I are having this discussion on opposite sides of the world? whilst discussion and dialogue about anything are important, I doubt that alone is reason enough for Ayan to matter much. Aleast to me.

  13. By the way Love your Podcasts! I have myself having a conversation with you guys, lol You should see me I am like ‘yea thats a good point’ nodding and ‘no you cant say that!’ lol

  14. If by ‘intellectual prowess’ you mean master contrarian [much like her Husband] then sure. It’s funny how you ladies brought up this fierce intellectualism yet fail to explain how she qualifies. We’re talking about the same person who cited Islamic societies as producing nothing in the natural sciences, right? Okay, just checking.

    The ability to memorize a narrative and repeat it in front of an audience oft not familiar with the material would make anyone look like quite the Proust. (My favourite part of all her symposia is when the camera pans to reveal an almost all white audience. Ace strategy!)

    But lets talk about when she is in the company of those who are familiar (if not experts) on what she spews. Zeba Khan, Maajid Nawaz, Tariq Ramadan and even Irshad Manji have consistently and peacefully (like good, trained Muslims) rebuffed her ill-thought-out arguments on theology, human rights, and international politics. Yet when discussing her detractors you two focused on Mohammed Bouyeri and extremists of the sort.

    That being said, Idil deserves a huge high-five. Hirsi exposes her charlatanism when she claims to work in the name of feminism, democracy and human rights yet uses her identity only ridicule and belittle Somalis and Muslims at large. Ron Eyerman in “The assassination of Theo Van Gogh”, a proponent of Ali, even writes about her patronizing and counterproductive attitude to these groups.

    All in all, great job and looking forward to the next entry.

    • Deeqa, I feel you sis, but I do find something problematic about challenging the intellect of a pundit because we don’t agree with their conclusions and frameworks. Of course she would say outrageously provocative statements like ‘islam societies produce nothing in the natural sciences’ (by the way, never heard her say that, can u please cite ur source and provide a context for this statement, I’m shocked she could be this intellectually irresponsible), as it fits into her political propaganda of framing muslims in a limiting manner. I don’t personally measure intelligence by the well intentions of the speaker and how much they yield to my personal philosophy. Niall Ferguson is a respected Historian, but a European supremacist, can these two narratives not exist? Is the mark of an intellectual one who yields to our own personal ideologies? I l loathe Richard Dawkins, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone challenging his intellectual prowess (even though he makes intellectually incorrect statements about the history of theism). I think I’m seeing a trend of dismissing this woman, and quite frankly, she basically destroys all of her opponents and that’s what frustrates me (muslims need better PR, and intellectuals, really, I mean Zeba Khan was soooo out of her league it was embarrassing). It’s my way of saying, we don’t help ourselves by the employment of dismissing and ad hominem attacks.

      You also took issue with our usage of Mohammed Bouyeri, but we were discussing how extremists have made this woman’s career,so in that instance Tariq Ramadan would be irrelevant to the conversation. It’s not through rational discourse with Irshad Manji (love love that woman) that elevates her position as a cultural critic, but through the hysterical cries of many muslims. Just take a survey of Somalis, and ask them their opinion on Hirsi, and unfortunately, I suspect you might find more Bouyeris than Ramadans.

      • Oh I wasn’t diminishing her intellect because I don’t agree with her frameworks and conclusions – her intellectual defincnies are made extant through her faulty analysis. They are always dripping with fallacies and essentialism and almost everything she says can easily be rebuffed.

        As for a citation for the aforementioned statement, you ask and you shall receive.
        In chapter 15, entitled “The Need for Self-Reflection Within Islam” in The Caged Virgin, Ali states the following:

        “After the events of 9/11, people who deny this characterization of the stagnant state of Islam were challenged by critical outsiders to name a single Muslim who had made a discovery in science or technology, or changed the world through artistic achievement. There is none.” (p.152)

        Now that’s a lot of stupid.

        (see Al-Khawarizmi on the invention of algebra, Ibn-Rushd on advancements in medicine)

        Again, ladies, you are bestowing upon this public figure far too much credit than she is wont.

  15. OK ladies, I wanted to reply in a better manner, and wait until the weekend when im actually rested, but I want to replyyyy like now!!

    Ok, first off, amazing discussion. Both of you brought up beautiful points and proved (again, but those who know already knew) that women can have opposing ideas and have transformative discussions. Also, I love the way you include all voices the way you speak to US not about US (important to point out that the somali community is not homogenous, and the language you use is english, so not all somalis, but we need to deal with this from multiple sides and yall are doing this).

    First off, I’ve really tried to dissect me almost hating Ayaan Xirsi Cali. I am put in situations sometimes with other muslims who are not black, and their critique of her is sexist borderline racist and I find myself defending her like she was my girl. At the same time, I feel a very visceral reaction towards her, meybe because she is black and female (Audre Lorde on why we feel like almost annihilating eachother). So I think we need to have a critique against her that is not racist and sexist (even though she ain’t doing us that favour).

    Secondly, she reminds me so much of myself when I came to Sweden. I was about 8 yrs old and the white kids would ask me if I had seen lions, zebras etc etc in the bush (where I was assumed to live), Soon I realized that when I told them what they wanted to her, I got soo much attention and I loved being in center telling stories. It stopped though, when an older haitian girl who was my neighbor saw this one day and gave me a look like “giiirl,you must be outside of your mind!!”.
    AXC critique is dishonest, she lies like it is nobodies business, but she can say any outrageous thing, she will still have followers. And to her followers, it’s really not about her intellect (or lack off, I would say she is manipulative, which gets you so much further. This whole “being intelligent” thing is overrated).

    BUT, I have to ask you ladies, and everybody else; if you put AXC in the context of famous somali writers such as Nurridin Farah and Waris Diriye, what is their main difference? For instance, Nurridin Farah seems to deliver to a white, female middleaged and middleclassed consumer group. Apparently his portrayals of women are oh so feminist. I was reading one of his books recently about his kung-fu fighting heroine in Muqdishu, one slice on mango a day eating with a trimmed behind.. and I was like dude please.

    Much love mamacitas

    Amina

    • Hey Amina,

      Thanks for your comment and glad you were so excited you couldn’t wait for the weekend to comment, lol, love that.

      I am going to go right into your excellent comparison of Nurridin Farah, Waris Diriye and Ayaan Hirsi. Long time I go I read his ‘Secrets’ and loved it and then read ‘Yesterday Tomorrow’ and identified with it as an immigrant myself in Europe, at the time. But then I made the mistake of going to his ‘Yesterday Tomorrow’ talk and I came out with a lot less respect for the man for his views on Somalis. He made a statement I found weird. It was 1999 and he said something along the line “Somalis have chosen to be victims and continue to leave the country as refugees when the war is nearly over and they could choose to stay at home”. I asked him why was he not in Mogadishu now that he no longer has that “I have been exiled by Siad Barre regime” excuse and lives in one of the wealthiest and most comfortable African cities, Cape Town. The guy doesn’t speak to Somalis but a Western audience and has little respect for hard choices immigrant families have to make. He also totally uses the misery Somalis have gone thru in the last 21 years to write about and make tons of money.

      Waris Dirie, I have even less respect for, totally milking circumcision story and writing not one but 3 books on the subject, bariis!

      These are public and high profile Somali figures who have exploited their Somali side to go places and we don’t have our guns out for them, the only reason Ayaan is on the slaughter house is that she criticized Islam. She is more honest and gutsy and doesn’t hide behind fake identity. Let’s apply same standards to all Somali public figures.

      OK, I had to say those harsh words against Waris and Nurridin, in comparison to how we judge Ayaan. But otherwise, I think eff it, why not. Exploit what you can to go places, what is wrong with that? Isn’t that how people go places in the rest of the world? We exploit our education, our privileges, our clan connection (funny how we don’t see clan abuse as the worst kinda of exploitation that has happened in Somalia), we exploit our natural resource to develop countries, what is wrong with that? I love how we as Somalis want us all to stay on one social/economic/intellectual level, anyone who sticks their neck gets the chop, lol. We even have an expression for this “xerada ayaay kabaxday”, like we are goats.

  16. Oh lawd ya had to mention her name huh..? Oh well personally I don’t take her serious at all she just another opportunist trying to make a dollar. She wanted that fame so bad that she went the extra length to kiss some asses while making a fool out of herself. To be honest my venom towards her has nothing to do with her thrashing of the islam religion as per se, coz that’s beyond my pay grade, that’s between her and her creator. My problem with her is the unfounded and baseless lies she manufactures about her own ppl..she’s trying to break the bank while stooping on us.. So ladies sorry but I have no respect for this witch, to me she’s just a joke.

    • Lol@Hamza, yeah, we know your views on Ayaan, had this discussion with you before, lol. Discussions like those are why we have chosen her as a subject for the podcast, amused by the strong reactions.

      Wise words, judgement on her religious views being ‘beyond your pay grade’, it is beyond mine too.

    • is it all unfounded and fabricated? I mean,are her challenges to our challenge all untrue? i find that a bit hard to swallow. No misogyny, patriarchy? violence against women? rape? genital mutilation? extremism? none of that could be found in Somalia? and i want you to answer that without pointing to other societies that may or may not have similar social ills.

      • Do you think she could have raised those issues (rape, misogony, fgc etc etc) within the somali community, been “out the closet” as an athiest and had a platform to do this?

        Besides being a voice for some somalis, which is new to me and made me ponder quite a bit, what is beneficial about her struggle?

        Sending an OD of love

        • wow, that question is something else, and you got with that one! I hate myself for saying this, but no. There’s no way she would have a platform as an outed atheist in our community. This woman is a clusterfuck of cognitive dissonance for me. I’m caught between rejecting her essentialist/yielding to anti-other rhetoric and a belief that there is no way this woman would be alive had she voiced these concerns back home, or perhaps in our own community. I hate to be reductionist here, but part of this dialogue is admitting some uncomfortable truths. We’re outrageously anti-human in our respect for lifestyles that don’t conform to ‘somaalinimo iyo islanmimo’. What do you think?

      • First and foremost let me make one thing clear about some misunderstanding with my earlier post Idilay. It was not my intention to create such an awful, stupid and misogynist post.. It was simply a bad joke and I’ll be the first one to admit I was way out of line and I should’ve known better. I sent an apology to all my friends that sent me berating private messages for that post, I can’t foul them or you for that matter, for voicing their displeasure with what I posted.. I can only be a man and fess up to my mistakes… So Idilay, with all respect, my sincere apology to you as well.

        If there was any good that came out of this unfortunate experience, it is that I have grown and learned alternative approaches to weigh my words carefully next time before I trade them. there’s no humor to rape and I can’t wish that to anyone however much I hate or despise them. Thats not me and thats not what i should portray in my views.With that said now let me try and see if I can answer your question.

        All that you’ve mentioned is true and continues to this day, i cant dispute that. But one thing we have to understand is we are still evolving mentally as a society. And I say that because culturally the ‘male dominant mantra’ has been engrained in our DNA since the inception of us as ppl.. And unfortunately this mentality has been enforced more by not only the fathers but the mothers as well. I grew up where my own mother treated me differently than my sister. She gave me more leeway coz I was a boy.. Do I blame her..? Not really, coz she never new any better. But the bigger Q is, how do we change that mindset.? Generation and generation have kept the same script, danced to the same tune believing that women are supposed to be voiceless and submissive.. 

        So i personally don’t believe It’s something that can be changed overnight but I believe over time and with more education giving voices to our young women things will change for the better. I hope.. The reason why i don’t take this Ayan Hirsi chick seriously and never will is because, is she talking to us or talking about us.?  For argument sake, lets say I had a problem with my wife, would I go out there and air my dirty laundry to the general public or deal with it in house.? I think we all know the answer to that. So basically that’s my major beef with the loco. 

  17. I don’t think she could have raised these questions in the somali community either, I think this is what some call “politics of respectability” (i’m trying my best to not talk about other global experiences, and biting my tongue thinking the cad cad’s will get a hard-on of this convo). Somali identity is very rigid and seems to be based on ethinical cleansing (http://sayidka.blogspot.se/) and as it’s discussed in the link, the word “gaal” predates Islam in Somalia and seems to be about an enemy of the “so-maal”, maybe that’s one of the reasons we are so against people going against a modern somali identity? Also, it is always talked about how we supposedly have 1 language, 1 religion..could it be said that af-raxan weyn for instance is a different langauge than somali? Supposedly groups on the southern coasts speak something similar to swahili? We are indeed aggressive imperialists within our country/community.

    I sometimes feel relieved that somalis are marginalized (ok this is effed up, i feel like this is a psychiatrist session) because I know that I would stand no chance, be judged as a woman who is not respectable. And let me point out, I do not, under any circumstances, view the white mans misogyny better.

    But how can then women who are deemed as not “respectable” in the somali context have a transformative voice (i promised to not bring other global experiences up, but i have to, i do not consider the imaginary region called “the west” any better. They can offer their women larger crumbs because their cake is larger).

  18. I enjoyed listening to this podcast. Ironically, I question Ayan Hirsi Ali level of intelligences and knowledge. She seems like unstable Somali woman who wants to be famous by attacking Islam thru her personal life experiences. She lack wisdom of tolerance and respecting other people believes. Due of her identity crisis she can’t fit to be cultural phenomenal. The way ayan talk she can’t hold any intelligence debate. The truth is she can’t win the mind and heart of the people. Her ideas of reforms are not expected at all. On other side, the extremists should not kill her due of her criticism but we all need patients to confront her via the channel of understanding. Islam is great value but the Muslims destroying the values by the way how we practices. In reality, Muslims in Europe or North America failed to integrate within the western societies. If you can’t live here basically you can return home and quit complaining.

  19. @Nour,

    This made me laugh out loud and couldn’t agree with you more: “Muslims in Europe or North America failed to integrate within the western societies. If you can’t live here basically you can return home and quit complaining.” Word!

  20. AfroLens you have one of the weakest argument against Ayan Hirisi. Give credit where credit is due, it takes a strong gutsy person to step out as an atheist in Somali community. They would stoned her in a day light of course during a Friday prayer. All you are doing by dismissing her while cursing is that Ayan Hirisi indeed is right about your type of people and that you are violent and incapable of progress. The fact every year Somalia seems to regress further in wild zone shows that she is quite right about a lot of things. What you can do different would be come out and speak for women’s right etc without being harsh but have a strong stance. All I hear is Islam is off limit , this is scared, that is scared BS. Deal with some serious issues you have in your community and be critical of all things that is including religion. Men in this part of the world have been using religion for too long to their advantage so please don’t tell me I have right in Islam. BTW the picture of men holding guns with their headscarves speaks volume 🙂 Progress or be left behind the choice is yours…

    • LOL Tell us how you really feel. While, I appreciate your fiery passion, I don’t appreciate personal attacks and unfounded charges. If you listened to the podcast, you would hear that Fatuma actually agrees with your position, and defends Ayan as a formidable cultural critic.

      Of course it takes a gutsy person to stand out as an atheist, we addressed this, and both gave her kudos for it. who has denied this? and how are you any different than the people you and Ayan criticize when you’re trying to silence voices that challenge you. There is a conversation taking place that very few Somalis would dare to have, and this forum and many of the comments demonstrates that we are a community comprised of many different ideologies, experiences, and political thought. Why not engage these discussions, rather than dismiss anyone who dares to challenge Ayan?

      The irony is we both agree with you, I (Idil) have strong reservations about this woman’s motives, and the implications of her claims, but definitely respect her as a courageous and intelligent woman (I said this in the podcast too). Nonetheless, thank you for listening, and look forward to more of your comments sans the aggression lol. actually, nevermind, aggression is good, but at least don’t straw-man us.

      P.S. love your input about atheism in Somalia. I think that’s an interesting point there. And most certainly agree that she would be dead if she were openly atheist back home.

  21. Just because Hirsi hijacked all these taboos does not mean her judgement about it is automatically valid. Theres an emitional aspect in this story thats very sellable and hirsi knows this. Fear sells and fear combined with words as “freedom and injustice” can mean a completely different thing in other countries. Cultureislam is something else than Islam we know this.. Look at Christians who eat pigs while it’s haram in their religion.. These things are carried out true culture not because of religion…

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