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Reasonable extremist

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a strident defender of the rights of Muslim women—so why do so many liberals attack her?

By Bella Thomas   March 2007

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s story filtered slowly into Britain at a tangent via Holland. Her fame preceded her, and her image became mired by controversy and confusion before her argument was properly heard. But apart from her would-be assailants who would kill her for her views on Islam, Hirsi Ali has an array of unlikely liberal critics, many of whom underestimate her and misrepresent her argument.

Hirsi Ali was a Somali asylum-seeker who took on her former religion, got into trouble for doing so, and became a Dutch MP but then resigned. Her collaborator, the filmmaker Theo van Gogh, was famously…

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