January 19, 2009

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SECURITY NOTE: Due to the security concerns Ms. Ali has experienced elsewhere, no backpacks, large bags or purses will be permitted. All items subject to search. Metal detectors will be used. Entry through doors on the Academic Quad-side only.

By Sam Alcorn

LEWISBURG, Pa. – Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a noted leader and author who has faced death threats for her criticism of Islam’s treatment of women, will speak at Bucknell University on Tuesday, March 31.

Ali’s talk will be given at 7:30 p.m. in Trout Auditorium. Free and open to the public, the talk is part of the continuing speaker series, The Bucknell Forum, and its new focus on “Global Leadership: Questions for the 21st Century.”

The title of her talk is “Ladies First,” in which she will examine whether there’s “a direct relationship between the radical jihadists' opposition to democracy and their systematic abuse of women.”

Seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. No tickets are required.

Named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” of 2005, one of Glamour’s Heroes of 2005 and Reader’s Digest’s European of the Year for 2005, Ali published a collection of essays, The Caged Virgin, in 2006, and a memoir, Infidel, in 2007.

Born in Somalia
Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and raised in a traditional Muslim family. In 1992, she was married off to a distant cousin in Canada by her father in a ceremony she refused to attend. Ali escaped the marriage by fleeing to the Netherlands, where she was given asylum and, later, citizenship.

She earned a master’s degree in political science and served as an elected member of the Dutch parliament, focusing on the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society and defending the rights of women in Dutch Muslim society. She campaigned to raise awareness of violence against women, including honor killings and female genital mutilation, finding her voice as an advocate for women’s rights and an “enlightened Islam.”

Ali gained international attention in 2004 following the murder of film director Theo van Gogh, who had directed her short film, Submission, about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin left a death threat for Ali pinned to van Gogh’s chest.

Resigned from parliament
She was forced to resign from the Dutch parliament in 2006 when her application for asylum was questioned. Ali had claimed she was fleeing war-torn Somalia. Fleeing an arranged marriage is not considered valid ground for asylum in Holland. Her Dutch citizenship has since been confirmed.

Currently a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., she researches the relationship between the West and Islam, women’s rights in Islam and violence against women propagated in the name of religious and cultural arguments. Ali lives with around-the-clock security.

The spring 2009 Bucknell Forum series will kick off with a talk by F.W. de Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993 for bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa. De Klerk will give his talk, “Bridging the Gap: Globalization without Isolation,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. || Complete story

For more information about "Global Leadership: Questions for the 21st Century," go to The Bucknell Forum. || Previous events

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