February Newsletter: Ex-Muslim from the U.S. and Iranian dissident speak on women’s oppression in their communities

From the day I founded AHA Foundation, breaking the silence about cultural practices that threaten and harm women and girls has been at the heart of our mission.
Shaparak Shajarizadeh and Fatima Ali, two women we interviewed for AHA Foundation’s newsletter this month, embolden that mission. While Shaparak has tirelessly fought for years, Fatima has just embarked on her courageous journey. Both hope that their actions will bring to light oppression they’ve witnessed in their communities.
Shaparak is a women’s rights champion who fled Iran in 2018, where she was arrested, abused, and held captive away from her family for her activism against compulsory hijab—“You have no idea how scary it is to be in those interrogation rooms… I could see evil in their eyes.” The BBC recognized her as one of the world’s most inspirational women in 2018 for her work. You can read more about her activism for women’s rights in our blog.
Fatima Ali is an ex-Muslim who witnessed child marriage and honor violence in her community while growing up in Cleveland, Ohio. After more than a year of thoughtful consideration, she recently decided to open up about these abuses, saying, “There is no piety in enabling what you know is wrong.” You can read here what prompted her brave decision to speak up and what she hopes to accomplish.
While we work to amplify the voices of these activists, we recognize that it wouldn’t be possible without your support. You have helped build our movement, and in turn, given these women the voice they deserve as well as a chance for lasting change.
I can’t thank you enough for that,
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Founder
P.S. Breaking the silence continues to be a driving force behind all my work. This month, I’ve published a new book and launched a podcast. In my book, Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights, I hope to raise awareness about the rise in sexual assault and sexual harassment that many European countries have witnessed in the wake of mass migration. Through my podcast, The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast, I seek to establish a home for common sense and critical thinking.