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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
Somalia: Meeting with Ayan Hirsi Ali

Prepared by Farah Aw Osman

A friend of mine invited me to a forum held in my city, Ottawa, where Ayan Hirsi Ali was to present her views on Islam and launch her new book, Nomad. Even before I could accept the invitation, I asked myself several questions. Who is Ayan Hirsi? What will she talk about? What will I benefit from the meeting?

My knowledge about Ayan was limited on what I read about her on the press, both international and local Somali media. I never read her books, Infidel and Nomad let alone anything else from her.

I was fortunate however to meet her late father, Hirsi Magan Isse in Dubai and Bossaso. I used to listen to his Islamic teachings on Radio Kulmis when I was a teenager. Hirsi was an elite, politician and famous patriot who highly respected Islam and Somali culture. He was also famous on writing Othomani and Somali languages which he even looked for appropriate Somali wording for any foreign word. Examples of such words are Ashtray which he called Dambas Qaad, Time watch he called Goorayso and many more.

I also followed with keen interest on Ayan’s decision to renounce Islam and her constant abuse of Islamic belief, culture and principle which exasperates 1.6 billion Muslim faithful across the globe.

After all this explanations to myself, I finally accepted the invitation to see and hear for myself Ayan and her campaign so that I can understand her hatred and fight against Islam. There is a saying by Prophet Muhammed Peace Be Upon Him which goes like ‘seeing for yourself is not equal to hearing from someone else’. So I needed to understand Ayaan from my point of view.

Meeting with Ayan and Thursday Night

I arrived at the meeting around 7 o’clock in the evening of June 10 2010. Before entering the hall, I met both dressed and plain-clothed security officers, who were keeping guard of the place. I entered the long cue from behind and shortly a lady who was standing infront of me asked if I had a ticket and I replied yes. So she informed that the line was meant for people who did not have tickets.

I left the cue and headed straight to the Mayfair Theatre gate, where the forum was taking place. Inside, the theatre was packed to full capacity with some people even standing. I looked for place to seat and I found vacant chairs but they were at the further upper end of the theatre. After settling myself there, I realized that I was far from clear sight of Ayan. Then I tried to look for another seat at the front bench, fortunately I saw my friend who got two chairs at the front left in the second row.  

Shortly after settling down, I surveyed the faces of the people who came to listen to Ayan and they were all white faces of different ages. I have seen only two black faces and the only Muslims around were me and my friend. My thoughts on why this was:

·         Because the organizers were Ottawa Writers Festival and I guess the people who attended are all readers of Ayan’s books and who want to personally meet her.

·         I also sensed that Muslims in particular Somalis have not come because they have already heard her and seeing was not appreciated.

Minutes later, security officers entered the place and secured the area where Ayan would seat. Ottawa Police officers were also deployed at the gates. Shortly after that, a man and a woman, whom I think were Ayan’s assistants entered the building and sat on two chairs in front of me.

The gate was opened and Ayaan Hirsi entered, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd, Ayan sat on a chair just infront of us and threw a glimpse with smile on us at the back. Officials from Writers Festival opened the forum with statement on writers who attended and also welcome Ayan to Ottawa. He then welcomed to the microphone, CBC Ottawa reporter Lucy van Oldenbarneveld who gave a brief history of Hersi. She then introduced her.

For twenty minutes, Ayan read a portion of her new book Nomad, which she described as continuation of her other book Infidel. She said that the book is divided into four sections, which are family stories, Islam’s mistakes, money and portion of solution.

She read for us the money part for 20 minutes. In her reading, she explained concept difference that Islam and western have about capital. She painted a picture that I can say was blurred which she described as her experience as a refugee in Holland. 

She narrated her life at refugee camps in Holland, the way she got her papers, her first time to be given a house to settle, and the largest sum of money she ever handled which she said was 5000 Gildar.

For sure, I was surprised by the negative picture that Ayan is painting about Islam and the whole issue of money matters and also the false life about Somali women.

The most astonishing for me was

·         For her to say that the largest sum of money she ever had or seen was what she got from the social office to buy some things for her house.

·         When she claimed that she was asked by a social worker about money for saving and her reply was, what is saving? From there the worker explained to her that it was money she puts aside to use later in the future. She claimed that it was the first time for her to hear or understand the concept of savings. “I used to see my grandmother hiding money from my mother and father under her pillow,” she said.

·         She also said that when she received the sum, she bought carpet and curtains and remained with a change of 400 Gildar. She claimed that a lady who used to teach her Dutch wondered with her ignorance when she saw her empty house without even bed, chairs, TV and other stuffs (she was emotionally telling the people about ‘the slavery that Somali women were facing’ and also how they were not allowed to handle money, so many restriction before the freedom and happy life in European refugees camp).

·         She also spoke on lengthy about Somalis living in Holland who use the money from social office and credit cards to enable their relatives in Kenya migrate to Europe. She narrated about how she cut communication with Somalis after she learnt Dutch and became translator.
After finishing reading the book, the floor was open for questions from the reporter.

Some of the questions she was asked include;

How do you, after renouncing Islam want to make an overhaul to the Islamic beliefs?

What made you abandon Islam, and when did you decided to leave the religion?

Those who are oppose to you say that Ayan is trying to appeal to the middle-classed white people and would like them to hear what they would want to be told and as a result, your readers and listeners are only from that category, is that right?

Ayan depicted Islam as oppressor of women and danger to the existence of human kind. While responding to what made her renounce Islam, she claimed that the suffering of her mother and granny made her abandon the religion to avoid end up like them. She also claimed that her mother refused her to attend school in spite of her father willingness. Ayan also claimed that an incident happened to a Somali lady, who was raped by Kenyan forces and abandoned in a refugee camp in Kenya has influenced her to renounce the religion. 
Ayan’s most shocking narration was about her solution to Islam. She called on christians, as written on her book Nomad, to go to the Muslim neighborhoods and influence the faithful to abandon the religion and join them.

The reporter, who was at that moment astonished by what she heard, asked her why she as an Atheist thinks that way and could this cause disharmony amongst the religions?  Ayaan replied that it is better for her to belief on long-haired Jesus who wear sandals and love peace than believing God who has stick and slay people.

If I try to cover everything that Ayan said, I think I would not conclude on one writing.


Things that really left me amazed about her book and what she told the people who attended the forum are her constant lies about Islam and herself. As we all know, Ayan was born to a wealthy and well educated family. Her father was a man who in early 60s graduated from Columbia University, and educated in Italy. He was a famous elite, politician, scholar and linguist. Ayan got her education in Kenya, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia where she attended highly respected schools. She is not someone who suffered or went through refugee camps.

So, the picture she painted about her life is far from truth, I can only say it is FICTION and her night dreams which she is using in real life to confuse people who don’t have enough knowledge about Islam. 
To sell her Nomad book to westerners, she is trying to make herself as a person who has not seen a town, large sum of money and never went to school. She even made herself like she was rescued from the bush where she lived with animals. A life that she calls Barbaric and inhumane.   

The other shocking thing about her is the way she depicts her family, her mother, father and granny as people who lived in distressful life, one with so many suffering and hardship, which is out of reality. Furthermore, her awful depiction of Islam, the way she wants war against Islam and to create divisions amongst Muslims and other religions and make people suffer.

The other thing that I can describe as stupidity is her blanket war against peaceful Multiculturalism in the western countries. If is not for what she is fighting now, Ayan would have not arrived Holland, where she would become a parliamentarian.

To the conclusion, Ayan is an intelligent person but filled with hatred, so much annoyance which blinded her from the truth, cannot differentiate between culture and faith, true and false. She is now living in a distressful life which she can’t even walk without security guard, preferring hiding to her freedom. 
The likes of her are people who strive hard to see the world, which is now engulfed in fighting and hatred, without life of companionship, understanding and respect. She is simply campaigning for a divided world.

It could have been better if Ayan is engaged into debate about knowledge, but I think that would not happened at the moment or we could attend where she makes address to ask her questions and correct her in a civilized manner.  If Muslims or Somalis don’t speak about what they believe and how they see her campaign, and what Islam says about women, other religions and togetherness, I think the absence of this is what gives Ayan chance to confuse more people, who have no idea about Islam.

We must not allow groups or individuals to take Islam hostage, paint bad picture whether they are those who are united for the course of depicting Islam or the likes of Ayan who simply don’t recognize God.

Muslims shall stand to protect the religion and correct whenever people try to depict our believes badly. It seems there are people, both extremist and few persons who want to take Islam hostage and use the name to attain their aims, with some saying they would teach the people the religion through use of guns while others say the religion needs a total overhaul or annihilation. The more than billion faithful shall speak and defend itself from inciters both inside and outside.

Prepared : Farah Osman and translated by GAROWE ONLINE

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