Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation For Women and Islam

Free Press, May 2006

Hardcover, 208 pages

Genre, Current Affairs

I am currently reading
"The Caged Virgin" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I started off by enjoying it because I felt it helped me understand:

1. The role of women in Islam.

2. The roots of fantaticism.

3. The effects of Western policies toward Islamic countries and immigrant communities.

4. The lack of progress in many Muslim nations.

But, there's been so many controversies over Ms. Hirsi Ali's opinions, many raised by Muslim women themselves, that I have decided not to continue with the book. Instead I will give you two links - one is a pro-Ayaan article by Christopher Hitchens in the Slate and the other, by Laila Lalami in the Nation, who takes a critical view of the book. I will also link you with an interview that Ms. Hirsi Ali did with Alex Chadwick of NPR and let you arrive at your own conclusions.

But before all of that, who is Ayaan Hirsi Ali?

From a brief biography of the Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (born 13 November 1969 in Mogadishu, Somalia) is a Dutch human rights leader, feminist, and a member of the Dutch Parliament for the liberal party. She is a prominent and often controversial spokesperson, author, film maker and critic of Islamism. Her movie “Submission” on abuse of women in Islam, directly led to the murder of the director Theo Van Gogh in November 2004. A death letter left on the body was addressed to Ms Hirsi Ali.

In 2005 Ms Hirsi Ali was chosen among the world’s 100 most influential people of Time Magazine and Reader’s Digest voted her ‘European of the Year 2006’. Meanwhile, she also receives heavy criticism on her views and approaches for change. Ms Hirsi Ali is under severe and permanent security protection.

-->Ayaan Hirsi Ali Interviewed On Channel 4


Anonymous said...

Hey not deleted my comments. Are you so scared of your Muslim readers. Its ok I understand...

Lotus Reads said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry, I had to delete your comments because they were inflammatory, but I did amend the point that made you see red. So I hope you're happy! Thanks for understanding.

Heather said...

Have you read The Trouble With Islam by Irshad Manji? I saw an interview with her today and she is a most articulate woman. I think I'll add both of these books to my TBR Mountain.

Suzan Abrams, email: said...

Hi Lotus,
And how was the party?
First, the title The Caged Virgin is another terribly seductive title, don't you think...
And I think how super, grand and cool and all rolled into one that you've got your You Tube.
And now while wearing my dunce cap...Lotus, I signed up for You Tube but didn't really understand the rules. Does it mean you HAVE to upload your own videos just to get another from the Web? Or can you just get one already? Did you take this one just on its own or did you have to pass your video to someone else first?
lots of love

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Heather!

I'm jealous you got to see an interview with Irshad Manji! I heard Jian Ghomeshi interview her on "Sounds Like Canada" the other day and I was so impressed by how beautifully she put her thoughts across - like you say, she is most articulate. I have her book here and read a little from it a few months ago. Will have to find time to go back and finish it. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Hi, Susan!

*Laughing at the dunce cap bit*
WRT "You Tube" you do not need to upload your own videos to use one of theirs. Sign in and indicate you want upload a video and "You Tube" will publish it to your blog. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

thank you, Lotus, for posting this interview. I enjoyed listening to Aayan speak. She is really very calm - exactly what the reporter in his report said.

Lotus Reads said...

You're quite welcome, Rania! I've been told there are some even better interviews with Ms. Hirsi Ali on "You Tube", I will have to hunt them down. Thanks for the comment.

Suzan Abrams, email: said...


By the way if you're going to be in the Marble Arch area in London and want to know about bookshops, could I suggest a few goodies...
if you get off at Marble Arch tube station, there is quite a nice bookshop nearby not too far from KFC on the same row. No need to cross roads. Lots of bargains and beautiful Victorian cards. They specialise in greeting cards, letter paper and all those pretty bits that go with the same category and are so English with its quaint charm.
When you cross the road, there is Waterstone's and also Books Etc. (this too is an extraordinary bookshop especially with its very clever choice of non-fiction...the kinds you like to review.)
If you get off at Bond Street tube station just before Marble Arch (on the next stop) you will come across these bookshps nextled with dozens of other fashion houses and cafes. It's just a 5 minute walk from Bond street to Marble Arch at the end of the day. You can even walk up to Regent Street in between these areas.
But if you walk up from Bond Street along the same row into Oxford Circus (or also from Oxford Circus tube station) - also a 5 minute walk from Bond street - you will come across my favourite Borders bookstore...there's more Waterstone's about the place too. If you keep walking on to Tottenham Court(most people just walk) or just take the tube into Tottenham (next stop from Oxford Cicus which is the next stop from Bond which is the next stop from Marble Arch...see they're all in a nice row), then you'll turn into Charing Cross road...the haven of independent bookshops, another another Borders that implies are adept literary section, a special crime bookshop, or and numerous kinds. Second-hand...solitary...they're all there. My favourite is Foyle's.
And then if you keep walking from Charing Cross straight on - 5 minutes and you''ll be at Lecester Square (cinema & theatre world). In other words, the West End.
Lotus, if you take the Picadilly Line - and you can catch it in Lecester Sauare, the next stop is Picadilly Circus. Get off at Picadilly Circus, there are many different roads out of the station. Take the one that is closest to the Virgin record store. Directly across the Virgin record store is the royal bookshop Hatchards that I had described once and so tempted you with their cocktail party of of wonderful book jacket displays...
And next to it is Fortnum & Mason, a good landmark.
Oh Lotus...I'm so happy for you. London is a paradise for books.
The only drawbook you'll encounter is the crowds at this time in the summer...these places will be very crowded with tourists. Hopefully, I'm exaggerating as I'm more used to the far quieter autumn and winter periods when I feel the place as a playground, is all mine.

paris parfait said...

I'm glad you've presented readers with an easy way to view both sides of the story (with your direct links). Islam for women is very different, depending upon in which country one resides and how moderate or extreme the government is. Under Sharia law, theoretically Islam provides a number of rights for women - but trying to put these in practice is often difficult, again, depending upon the country. Thanks for your post and helping raise awareness about some of the difficult issues Muslim women face.

Cassiopeia Rises said...

lotus my dear, I have printed these articales and will read them later as I am not well to day and I have spent the day cleaning up after my three sons. They had a party and left the clean up to me.Oh,lotus take me with you. It all sounds so lovely. All the great bookstores and Charing Cross. I would think I had died and gone to heaven. Then on to India. There I know I would have gone to my heaven. lol
Oh, my dear I'll miss you so.
Must do third load of dishes. No time to write poems today.
love, M-bd

Unknown said...

Religion always incites strong feelings. I wonder when and if there will ever be (in my lifetime) an acceptable alternative to killing or suppression in the name of religion. It seems like when one religion comes around another religion becomes less tolerant. I think it is a shame because religion is so important to many people.

Lotus Reads said...

Heh,heh Susan, this is too much info for my little brain to remember! :) I am going to have to take a print-out and carry it with me to London. Thanks so much - this is truly a wealth of information, I am excited! Thanks again.

Hello Paris-Parfait, thanks for stopping by and thank you also for your insights. I have lived in India, Dubai and now, Canada and you are right when you say, when it comes to the role of women in Islam, so much depends on the type of government each country employs.

Hi, Beloved

Hope your sons had a good party? And you must hurry up and plan a trip to India! I know you will love it.

Hi, Angela

'Tis true and it's because religion inspires such strong feelings in people that we need to sit down and have many discussions on it - to find a middle road, so to speak. Thanks for your comment.

David D Jerald said...

Dear Lotus,
I am proud of you. I know you well enough to know you have always been more than fair to both sides of any story. It is one of your great strengths. I admire you for that and I always will.

Lotus Reads said...

Awwwww, Dave, thank you!!!

Susan in Italy said...

Thank you so much, Lotus for bringing Ali and Manji to my attention. It's taken me so long to respond because I've been reading the articles you linked to and mulling them over a lot. The one in The Nation has so much more to chew on than the Slate one. Rather than reading "The Caged Virgin" or "The Trouble With Islam Today" I'd want to read more from The Nation journalist! Thanks for all the food for thought, Lotus and have a lovely holiday!

Lotus Reads said...

You're quite welcome, Susan; I am so glad the articles piqued your interest. The writer of the article in "The Nation", the one you liked, is a fellow blogger - Moorish Girl. She's also written a fiction book on Moroccan undocumented workers, titled "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits". I enjoy her writing!