March 06, 2012

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her 'mirror' in great new bio

Wanted Women: Faith, Lies, and the War on Terror: The Lives of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia SiddiquiWanted Women: Faith, Lies, and the War on Terror: The Lives of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui by Deborah Scroggins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a great twin biography/history, kind of like a pair of Plutarch's "parallel lives." Indeed, Scroggins notes that it's possible Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui could have cone in each other's directions; Ali herself has said so.

Beyond the general parallels, the thing I most noted about Ali is that it's more obvious than ever, from this book, why she threw her lot in with the neocons politically and the Gnu Atheist "philosophically." Both groups, and Ali, tend toward absolutism in their interpretation of various events. And also, while Ali is perhaps not quite Sarah Palin, Scroggins makes clear that she has a love of the limelight and publicity too. While she is still a sympathetic figure to some degree, she's less so to me than she was before I read this book, and she wasn't totally sympathetic then.

Siddiqui is less well-known; in fact, despite her trial and conviction, I knew very little about her. That said, an MIT graduate of graduate school becoming one of al-Qaeda’s top female backers is indeed a caution … a caution in part to the Ali types who want to say that all Islam is fundamentalist, and that it’s fundamentalist because of its backwardness.

Scroggins also offers a peek or two at Pakistan’s ISI and just how closely connected it may have been to Siddiqui.



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