"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."

- Ayaan Hirsi Ali from her book Infidel

I don't know why her size surprised me so. I suppose I was expecting Ayaan Hirsi Ali to be a giant.

But the 41-year-old author of two New York Times bestsellers - Infidel and Nomad - is petite and her high, high cheekbones and flawless skin not only make her look noble, but also almost fragile.

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