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Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Author and Founder of the AHA Foundation

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia, raised Muslim and spent her childhood and young adulthood in Africa and Saudi Arabia. In 1992, Hirsi Ali moved to the Netherlands as a refugee — escaping a forced marriage to a distant cousin she had never met.

She learned Dutch and worked as an interpreter in abortion clinics and shelters for battered women. After earning her masters degree in political science at Leiden University, she worked for the Labor Party.

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, she denounced Islam. In November 2002, she became a member of the VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) — and served as a member of parliament from January 2003 to May 2006, working for the rights of Muslim women in Europe, the enlightenment of Islam and security in the West.

In May 2006, she resigned her position in the Dutch parliament due to a controversy over the legitimacy of her Dutch citizenship.

Ayaan was named one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People of 2005," one of the Glamour Heroes of 2005, and Reader's Digest's "European of the Year."

She has also received Norway's Human Rights Service's Bellwether of the Year Award, the Danish Freedom Prize, the Swedish Democracy Prize, and the Moral Courage Award for commitment to conflict resolution, ethics, and world citizenship.

Hirsi Ali moved to the United States in September 2006. She founded the AHA Foundation in 2007 to help protect and defend the rights of women in the West from oppression justified by religion and culture.