Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote two influential (and controversial) books on the subject of Radical Islam–“Infidel” in 2007, and “Heretic” in 2015.
I interviewed Ayaan in 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin during her appearance (accompanied by a police escort charged with her safety) at the annual Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) convention. This was four years after she was forced to flee Holland, as she had fled her native Somalia, for refuge in the West (NYC). It was an honor to engage this remarkable woman on a personal level. I recommend both books if interested in an appreciation of the toxic threats of radical Islam. The books reveal what life was like for Ayaan, and largely remain so, for women in theocratic Islamic nations. Both reflect the fact that many of the basic liberties we take for granted, including speech and worship (or not!), freedom from want and from fear) are forbidden (especially for women) in Islamic countries. The life story Ayaan describes in Somalia mirrors the norms and traditions in Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic states. In such countries, dissent is hazardous and controls are both physical and mental, the latter amounting to what Christopher Hitchens called, “mind-forged manacles.”
The tenets of Islam are enforced by male power elites (imams, ayatollahs and theocratic officials).
However, the imprinting is all-pervasive owing to beliefs and rituals inculcated from birth to adulthood, and reinforced daily by families, clans and communities. (Note the similarity of such indoctrination to the experiences of children raised in fundamentalist Christian cults, and to a lesser but still powerful degree by nearly all religions, particularly the Roman Catholicism of my early years.)
The outlook for women in Islamic countries is grim, and even in the West, the REAL wellness prospects for orthodox Muslim women are dark, at best. REAL wellness can be enjoyed only when there are options and choices, as well as alternative sources of information about the nature of reality. At present, Islam is the only reality in Islamic theocracies, as Christianity is for most evangelicals, and as Christianity would be for all of us under the rule of Christian nationalists. (More on that shortly.)
It seems improbable that Western (or other) women accustomed to freedom of choice regarding belief, dress, profession, behavior, marital partner and the like would tolerate conditions women endure in Islamic states. Most men and women find it almost incomprehensible that many females in such societies have their sexual organs cut away to reduce temptations to enjoy sexuality. Such barbarisms and other grotesque practices and traditions are vividly described in “Infidel.”
The conditions and concerns described by Ayaan about radical Islam foreshadowed what we now observe about Christian Nationalism in America.
Christian nationalism is a political theology that joins an extreme form of patriotism with an ultra-conservative strain of Christianity. It fosters a claim that this country was founded as a Christian nation. According to the Freedom From Religion’s Andrew Seidel,
“Christian nationalism is based on lies and myths. It’s a permission structure that uses the language of return, of getting back to our godly roots, to justify all manner of hateful public policy-and even attacks on our democracy… The January 6 insurrectionists believed were fighting for God’s chosen one. And if God was on their side, who could be against them?”