Once a devout Muslim, Ms Hirsi Ali lives under 24-hour guard after a death threat against her was pinned to the chest of her ally, the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered in broad daylight as he cycled to work in 2004. Ms Hirsi Ali was an outspoken critic of Muslim fundamentalism and worked with Mr Van Gogh on Submission, a film featuring veiled women with texts from the Koran written on their flesh.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali became one of the main figures in the Dutch debate about Muslim integration that was kicked off by her friend Pim Fortuyn, who warned that liberal traditions were being threatened by the "backwards culture" of Islam. The debate intensified - after Fortuyn was killed by an animal rights activist - when an Islamist murdered another of Hirsi Ali's friends, the director Theo van Gogh. The success of Fortuyn's party and horror at the death of Van Gogh have changed the terms of debate. Mainstream politicians regularly call on Muslims to do more to integrate.