Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali Reuters

Outspoken critic of Islam and women's rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali claimed she considered converting to Judaism - and still hasn't ruled it out.

At an event last week in the home of Israeli Consul General to New York Ido Aharoni, the Somali-born author and activist told an audience that "one day I hope to convert to Judaism," in comments cited by The Jewish Week.

Ali added that she had even attempted to convert in the past, but had abandoned the process after finding it too hard.

"I tried it but it was very difficult," she said.

Jewish Week editor Gary Rosenblatt noted that "it was difficult to tell" if Ali, who was born a Muslim but is today a staunch defender of free speech and atheism in particular, was being serious.

During the hour-long talk Ayaan Hirsi Ali also criticized the Obama administration's handling of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, accusing the president of naivete.

On the Muslim world, compromise is seen as a source of shame, she said. "Their minds are frozen in the Middle Ages. Change will only come from the heretics."

Ali is a leading critic of Islam, and in particular has campaigned vociferously against female genital mutilation and the treatment of women in general in the Muslim world.

Despite her apparently strong liberal credentials, she has often been targeted by liberal and left-wing activists, who accuse her of "Islamophobia".

Last year Ali found herself in the middle of a storm over a decision by Brandeis University to revoke an honorary degree it had planned to award her, due her criticisms of the religion of Islam.