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Women's Advocate Ayaan Hirsi Ali Speaks At Fairfield University

Shiho Fukada
Somali-born women's rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke at Fairfield University on Wednesday.

Controversial feminist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali gave a lecture that drew about 500 people to Fairfield University on International Women’s Day this week.

Hirsi Ali says she wants to draw attention to oppression in Muslim-majority countries.

“I was born in Somalia. I lived in Saudi Arabia. I have worked with women from places like Pakistan and Egypt and all over the Muslim world. And I think it’s the one day that we have a chance to talk about those women who have no recourse in law, who are subjected to the most humiliating and the most depressing set of laws.”

Hirsi Ali was raised Muslim and says she is a survivor of female genital mutilation. She’s now atheist and says Islam promotes child marriage and other forms of oppression against women. Southern Poverty Law Center has listed her as an Anti-Muslim extremist.

Hirsi Ali has sparked protests at college campuses like Yale and Brandeis for her belief that Islam is an oppressive and violent religion.

Her lecture prompted the Muslim Students Association to host events about Islam at Fairfield University this week.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.