Friday, May 19, 2006 at 11:42 AM
Hirsi Ali is clearly a very provocative and controversial woman. Nonetheless, her advocacy for women’s rights and pleadings for the dignity of her religion are unassailable. And I agree with Jennifer that her contrived deportation is a loss for the Dutch and a gain for the Americans. [ALH ipinions]
Two days ago, my commentary on Dutch Aliens Affairs Minister Rita Verdonk’s capricious decision to revoke the citizenship of Ayaan Hirsi Ali – the Somali-born women’s right campaigner, acclaimed critic of radical Islam and Dutch MP – provoked many readers to append comments and send emails upbraiding me for condemning that decision. Invariably, my critics castigated me for allegedly not fully appreciating the gravity and elaborate nature of the lies Hirsi Ali told on her asylum application, which, they claimed, constituted just cause for Verdonk to revoke her citizenship.
The opening quote is my response to their criticisms. But, for the record, here’s how Hirsi Ali explained her lies and put this unfurling (political) scandal into perspective:
I am not proud that I lied when I sought asylum in the Netherlands. It was wrong to do so. I did it because I felt I had no choice.
I was frightened that if I simply said I was fleeing a forced marriage, I would be sent back to my family. And I was frightened that if I gave my real name, my clan would hunt me down and find me….
I am going away, but the questions remain. The questions about the future of Islam in our country, the suppression of women in Islamic culture and the integration of the many Muslims in the West.
The good news is that it seems a majority of the members in the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament share my condemnation of (and consternation over) Verdonk’s decision. And, their reaction was reported as follows:
In an emergency debate running on deep into the night [Wednesday], Verdonk was accused by all parties of two mistakes. First, she reached the conclusion far too quickly – after an investigation of scarcely one day….Secondly, the minister based this conclusion on a careless interpretation of a Supreme Court ruling in 2005….
Since 2002, Hirsi Ali had already repeatedly shared the fact with international media that she lied about her date of birth. Leftwing Green (GroenLinks) leader Femke Halsema said that everyone in The Hague had known the facts for a long time. Nonetheless, Verdonk only took action when TV programme Zembla presented the lies as new facts last Thursday….
The Lower House [then] forced Aliens Affairs Minister Rita Verdonk to reconsider her decision to withdraw Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Dutch nationality. A new decision will be made within six weeks.
Beleaguered Rita Verdonk in the hot seat over her revocation of Hirsi Ali’s citizenship
However, it appears this parliamentary censure may have been as motivated by domestic politics as Verdonk’s initial decision. Indeed, the Washington Post reported that:
The decision to revoke Hirsi Ali’s citizenship appeared driven by domestic Dutch politics – and drew criticism from Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who said he was “surprised by the speed” with which Verdonk acted and asked her for an explanation.
And according to the BBC:
If the hard-line immigration minister decides not to bend to parliament’s demands, many fear the centre-right coalition could face serious problems.
But EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes expressed the view of many of Hirsi Ali’s political supporters and women’s rights advocates around the world when she said that she was:
…ashamed of the Netherlands because a valuable person like Hirsi Ali is being shoved out of the country.
Given this growing backlash, it seems very likely that Verdonk will find some politically expedient way to rescind her decision. But I hereby absolve all of my (well-intentioned) critics of any need to retract or apologize for their caustic criticism of my commentary on Verdonk’s decision.
Nevertheless, as I wrote on another site, when Verdonk offers to reinstate her citizenship, Hirsi Ali should simply say “Thanks, but no thanks!” Then she should head to America, where U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick proclaimed yesterday that she would be welcome!
NOTE: This week the U.S. continued its bullying of the tiny Caribbean country of Antigua by unsealing indictments against two Americans for operating an Internet gambling business based there and sanctioned by the Antiguan government. I wrote a syndicated column on this extraordinary and extraterritorial exercise of U.S. jurisdictional power in March and invite you to click here to read my follow-up column pursuant to this indictment that was published at CNN today.