Ali, Ayaan Hirsi

While the world of political Islam continues to be dominated by acts of violence and a separatist agenda, there are signs of reform in the Arab Spring movement. Ayaan Hirsi Ali who has been at the forefront of the reform movement offers an analysis of what’s happening and how it could happen faster.

Around the world cracks are starting to appear in the world of political Islam. While its leaders remain strong and defiant and while it continues to be characterised by separatism and an agenda of violence, a number of people have questioned its rigid stances – from Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai to Amina Tyler, the activist who posed nude on Facebook to make a point about women’s bodies belonging to themselves.

Beyond that, political movements across the Middle East – the ‘Arab Spring’ protests – show that a number of Muslims are increasingly fed up by what they see as a system which is too inflexible, often corrupt and which prevents countries from getting ahead. Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali has long been an outspoken critic of political Islam, specifically its treatment of women. In her books she’s told her own story and how she escaped the bonds of a strict Muslim upbringing. In this book she moves beyond the personal story to a more overtly political stance. While women remain her main concern she also addresses Islam’s other problems – its emphasis on passivity, its hypocrisy about the modern world, its defensiveness when criticised. Analysing the embryonic protest movements from around the world, she asks what it would take to achieve a reformation – and how long it will take.