Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Somalia-born, Dutch-American writer and activist and former politician
Last published: Heretic: Why Islam Needs A Reformation Now (HarperCollins, 2015)
Two months before, Theo and I had made a short film together. We called it Submission, Part 1. I intended one day to make Part 2. (Theo warned me that he would work on Part 2 only if I accepted some humor in it!) Part 1 was about defiance—about Muslim women who shift from total submission to God to a dialogue with their deity. They pray, but instead of casting down their eyes, these women look up, at Allah, with the words of the Quran tattooed on their skin. They tell Him honestly that if submission to Him brings them so much misery, and He remains silent, they may stop submitting.
There is the woman who is flogged for committing adultery; another who is given in marriage to a man she loathes; another who is beaten by her husband on a regular basis; and another who is shunned by her father when he learns that his brother raped her. Each abuse is justified by the perpetrators in the name of God, citing the Quran verses now written on the bodies of the women. These women stand for hundreds of thousands of Muslim women around the world.
—From Infidel: My Life (Free Press, 2007)
A 12-part series of portraits selected for Lounge by Rohit Chawla, who has photographed over 200 authors at the Jaipur Literature Festival over a decade. His exhibition, The Inspired Frame, by Tasveer will showat Bikaner House, Delhi, till 18 March.