Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Dutch Parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali has resigned from parliament – well – under fire. The full text is here.

The most shocking part is that she has been stripped of Dutch citizenship because she gave a false name and story when she initially applied for asylum in 1992. Shocking because she has been entirely open about it. If you don’t recall immediately who she is, she is the Somali woman who has been sharply criticizing the treatment of women in Islamic society and who has to live under police protection in Holland because of her stance. She is most famous as the author of the script of the film Submission, which was about violence against women in Islamic societies, made by Theo Van Gogh and which led to his assassination by an Islamic radical in 2004.

The Dutch politics behind her impending expulsion are not yet clear to me in anything I have read so far – so I wont speculate. What seems clear is that she will have to leave Holland and that the US has let it be known that she is welcome in the US.

She states her goals when she accepted the invitation to enter parliament in 2003:

First of all I wanted to put the oppression of immigrant women — especially Muslim women squarely on the Dutch political agenda. Second, I wanted Holland to pay attention to the specific cultural and religious issues that were holding back many ethnic minorities, instead of always taking a one-sided approach that focused only on their socio-economic circumstances. Lastly, I wanted politicians to grasp the fact that major aspects of Islamic doctrine and tradition, as practiced today, are incompatible with the open society.

You can get a feel for the difficulty of her life in Holland from the following:

It is common knowledge that threats against my life began building up ever since I first talked about Islam publicly, in the spring of 2002. Months before I even entered politics, my freedom of movement was greatly curtailed, and that became worse after Theo van Gogh was murdered in 2004. I have been obliged to move house so many times I have lost count. The direct cause for the ending of my membership in parliament is that on April 27 of this year, a Dutch court ruled that I must once again leave my home, because my neighbors filed a complaint that they could not feel safe living next to me. The Dutch government will appeal this verdict and I grateful for that, because how on earth will other people whose lives are threatened manage to find a place to stay if this verdict is allowed to rest? However, this appeal does not alter my situation: I have to leave my apartment by the end of August.

That’s bad enough but as Hirsi Ali continues we see that she is clearly being pushed out. It is not yet clear why it is happening now- she says she disclosed the story of her appeal for asylum on TV in 2002 and has repeated it many times.

To return to the present day, may I say that it is difficult to live with so many threats on your life and such a level of police protection. It is difficult to work as a parliamentarian if you have nowhere to live. All that is difficult, but not impossible. It has become impossible since last night, when Minister Verdonk informed me that she would strip me of my Dutch citizenship.

Whatever the details I find myself in complete agreement with her that the issue will not go away when she does:

I am therefore preparing to leave Holland. But the questions for our society remain. The future of Islam in our country; the subjugation of women in Islamic culture; the integration of the many Muslims in the West: it is self-deceit to imagine that these issues will disappear.

Indeed. If anything in Hirsi Ali’s resignation points to the real reasons behind her expulsion this passage does. To be charitable to the Dutch Hirsi Ali is a high profile figure and a lightening rod for Islamist anger – and Holland is a small country. That said, I would have been much happier if they had treated her as a notional treasure, rather than a liability.

To put it directly I think she is a hero and I wish her the best of luck in the US or wherever she decides to settle.


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