Ayaan is a fierce, bold woman; a great author, who formerly suffered under Islamic oppression in her upbringing in Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya. Under this society she was subject to the most severe sexism that is seen in this world – including female genital mutilation – but went on to escape both the country and the ideology she was raised under to become a harsh critic of Islam. She’s a certified badass, and I can’t think of anybody I have more respect for.
I made a short film with Theo van Gogh (titled Submission) that drew attention to the direct link between the Quran and the plight of Muslim women.
In revenge for this act of free thinking, Mohammed Bouyeri, a 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan man, murdered van Gogh – shooting him eight times and stabbing him with two knives, one of which pinned a note to his body threatening the West, the Jews, and me.
As he was dying, my friend Theo reportedly asked his assailant, “Can’t we talk about this?” It’s a question that has haunted me ever since, often in bed at night. One side proposing a conversation, the other side thrusting a blade.
-Senior Editor A.