The 3-minute interview: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Local,Bill Myers

Ali had to go into hiding after her friend, Theo Van Gogh, was shot and ritually butchered for having helped Ali to produce a documentary critical of the way Islam treats women. Told by Van Gogh's assassin that she was next, the Somali-born Ali resigned from the Dutch parliament and eventually went into exile in the United States. Ali's latest book, "Nomad," is part memoir, part muckraker on the tensions between Islam and democracy. Now a scholar at the D.C.-based American Enterprise Institute, she spoke with The Washington Examiner in a phone interview.

Your book "Nomad"— how is it going? How is it selling?

I'm getting a great deal of applause and support for it. But I'm getting a lot of criticism, too. I think I expected that.

Mark Steyn and Oriana Fallaci say that Christianity is the best bulwark against militant Islam, but Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and others say atheism -- or at least secularism -- are the best. How do you fall down on the question?

I agree with both. For those militant Islamists who find themselves falling away from their faith, I welcome them to atheism. But I get many letters from Islamic people who say they cannot live without spirituality, without God, and Christianity is a good answer for them.

Can Islam undergo a reformation?

I think that Muslim individuals are capable of living peacefully. But Islam and Islamic philosophy are absolutist. You cannot question Mohammad's morality, for instance.

The theory is absolute; the Muslim mind is flexible.

Despite the awful circumstances of your coming here, are you enjoying America?

Yes, I am. I like living in America. I tell my European friends that in Europe, we talk about freedom. In America, we live it.

What do you like best?

I travel a lot and see many bits of America. I like living anonymously and in security.

-- Bill Myers

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