“As a woman you are better off in life earning your own money. You couldn't prevent your husband from leaving you or taking another wife, but you could have some of your dignity if you didn't have to beg him for financial support.”
“There are times when silence becomes an accomplice to injustice.”
“I would like to be judged on the validity of my arguments, not as a victim.”
“Many well-meaning Dutch people have told me in all earnestness that nothing in Islamic culture incites abuse of women, that this is just a terrible misunderstanding. Men all over the world beat their women, I am constantly informed. In reality, these Westerners are the ones who misunderstand Islam. The Quaran mandates these punishments. It gives a legitimate basis for abuse, so that the perpetrators feel no shame and are not hounded by their conscience of their community. I wanted my art exhibit to make it difficult for people to look away from this problem. I wanted secular, non-Muslim people to stop kidding themselves that "Islam is peace and tolerance.”
“Islam was like a mental cage. At first, when you open the door, the caged bird stays inside: it is frightened. It has internalized its imprisonment. It takes time for bird to escape, even after someone has opened the doors to its cage.”
“By declaring our Prophet infallible and not permitting ourselves to question him, we Muslims had set up a static tyranny. The Prophet Muhammad attempted to legislate every aspect of life. By adhering to his rules of what is permitted and what is forbidden, we Muslims supressed the freedom to think for ourselves and to act as we chose. We froze the moral outlook of billions of people into the mind-set of the Arab desert in the seventh century. We were not just servants of Allah, we were slaves.”
“Reality is not easy, but all this make-believe doesn't make it easier.”
“Drinking wine and wearing trousers were nothing compared to reading the history of ideas.”
“Most unmarried Somali girls who got pregnant committed suicide. I knew of one girl in Mogadishu who poured a can of gasoline over herself in the living room, with everyone there, and burned herself alive. Of course, if she hadn't done this, her father and brothers would probably have killed her anyway.”
“Wishful thinking about the peaceful tolerance of Islam cannot interpret away this reality: hands are still cut off, women still stoned and enslaved, just as the Prophet Muhammad decided centuries ago.”
“People accuse me of having interiorized a feeling of racial inferiority, so that I attack my own culture out of self-hatred, because I want to be white. This is a tiresome argument. Tell me, is freedom then only for white people? Is it self-love to adhere to my ancestors' traditions and mutilate my daughters? To agree to be humiliated and powerless? To watch passively as my countrymen abuse women and slaughter each other in pointless disputes? When I came to a new culture, where I saw for the first time that human relations could be different, would it have been self-love to see that as a foreign cult, which Muslims are forbidden to practice?”
“As a reader, I could put on someone else's shoes and live through his adventures, borrow his individuality and make choices that I didn't have at home.”
“It takes a long time to dissolve the bars of a mental cage.”
“What matters is abuse, and how it is anchored in a religion that denies women their rights as humans. What matters is that atrocities against women and children are carried out in Europe. What matters is that governments and societies must stop hiding behind a hollow pretense of tolerance so that they can recognize and deal with the problem.”
“I would not have put it this way in those days, but because I was born a woman, I could never become an adult. I would always be a minor, my decisions made for me. I would always be
a unit in a vast beehive. I might have a decent life, but I would be dependent—always—on someone treating me well.
I knew that another kind of life was possible. I had read about it, and now I could see it, smell it in the air around me: the kind of life I had always wanted, with a real education, a real job, a real marriage. I wanted to make my own decisions. I wanted to become a person, an individual, with a life of my own.”
“It was Friday, July 24, 1992, when I stepped on the train. Every year I think of it. I see it as my real birthday: the birth of me as a person, making decisions about my life on my own. I was not running away from Islam, or to democracy. I didn't have any big ideas then. I was just a young girl and wanted some way to be me; so I bolted into the unknown.”
“You must learn what to fear and what not to fear.”
“When people say that the values of Islam are compassion, tolerance, and freedom, I look at reality, at real cultures and governments, and I see that it simply isn’t so. People in the West swallow this sort of thing because they have learned not to examine the religions or cultures of minorities too critically, for fear of being called racist. It fascinates them that I am not afraid to do so.”
“Most of all, I think it was the novels that saved me from submission. I was young, but the first tiny, meek beginnings of my rebellion had already clicked into place.”
“There is another viewpoint that must be stated without equivocation: if Muslims want to immigrate to open and developed societies in order to better themselves, then it is they who must expect to do the adapting. We no longer allow Jews to run separate Orthodox courts in their communities, or permit Mormons to practice polygamy or racial discrimination or child marriage. That is the price of “inclusion,” and a very reasonable one.”
“Where I grew up, death is a constant visitor. A virus, bacteria, a parasite; drought and famine; soldiers, and torturers; could bring it to anyone, any time. Death comes riding on raindrops that turned to floods. It catches the imagination of men in positions of authority who order their subordinates to hunt, torture, and kill people they imagine to be enemies. Death lures many others to take their own lives in order to escape a dismal reality. For many women, because of the perception of lost honor, death comes at the hands of a father, brother, or husband. Death comes to young women giving birth to new life, leaving the newborn orphaned in the hands of strangers. For those who live in anarchy and civil war, as in the country of my birth, Somalia, death is everywhere.”
“A virgin's silence is the proper answer to a marriage proposal; it signifies a dignified consent.”
“The message of this book, if it must have a message, is that we in the West would be wrong to prolong the pain of that transition unnecessarily, by elevating cultures full of bigotry and hatred toward women to the stature of respectable alternative ways of life.”
“On September 16,1978, there was an eclipse of the moon in Riyadh. Late one afternoon it became visible: a dark shadow moving slowly across the face of the pale moon in the darkening blue sky. There was a frantic knocking on the door.When I opened it, our neighbor asked if we were safe. He said it was the Day of Judgment, when the Quran says the sun will rise from the west and the seas will flood, when all the dead will rise and Allah's angels will weigh our sins and virtue, expediting the good to Paradise and the bad to Hell. Though it was barely twilight, the muezzin suddenly called for prayer—not one mosque calling carefully after the other, as they usually did, but all the mosques clamoring all at once, all over the city. There was shouting across the neighborhood. When I looked outside I saw people praying in the street. Now more neighbors came knocking,asking us to pardon past misdeeds. They told us children to pray for them, because children's prayers are answered most. The gates of Hell yawned open before us. We were panicked.... but the next morning, the sun was safely in its usual place, fat and implacable, and the world wasn't ending after all.”
“Mahad had done wrong, but I had been unforgivably trusting, which meant I was fatally dense. I had failed to be suspicious. I deserved my grandma's scorn. I was not allowed to talk back to Grandma, and Ma said nothing to defend me. I could only sob, and seethe.”
“Adults never explained anything. They saw children as akin to small animals, creatures who had to be tugged and beaten into adulthood before they were worthy of information and discussion.”
“Sometimes, as we're stumbling along in the dark, we hit something good.”
“He growled and grimaced as they came to him, and clenched his fists in pain and anger.
"Unusual name," commented Mogget. "More of a bear's name, that growl.”
“America Singer, you get back here." He ran in front of me, wrapping an arm around my waist as we stood, chest to chest. "Tell me," he whispered. I pinched my lips together. "Fine, then I shall have to rely on other means of communication." Without any warning, he kissed me.”
“This is now.” She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.”
“She had lied to him. She had wanted to save lives, yes. But she had gone out there with no intention of saving her own.”
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