Imperiled Dutch Author Loses Protection

October 11, 2007 06:32 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Netherlands withdraws security funding from Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an activist for Islamic Women's rights threatened with death by extremists; The Hague cites financial reasons in response to accusations of cowardice.

30-Second Summary

The Dutch government awarded Somalian-born author Ayaan Hirsi Ali around-the-clock protection in 2004, after an Islamic extremist killed the filmmaker Theo van Gogh.

Hirsi Ali and Van Gogh had collaborated on a short movie, “Submission,” about abused Muslim women. That project cost the director his life.

Pinned with a knife to his dead body was a letter threatening Hirsi Ali.

On Oct. 1, she returned to the Netherlands from the United States after The Hague declared it would no longer offer her protection while she was beyond Dutch borders.

The withdrawal of protection came a week after Hirsi Ali received resident alien status for the United States, where she has resided since 2006.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said that the security arrangements for her stay overseas were always explicitly temporary.

Balkenende referred to the expense of her bodyguards, who cost the Netherlands $2.8 million a year, according to The International Herald Tribune.

In a strongly worded denouncement of The Hague, appearing in the LA Times, Salman Rushdie stated that the Dutch government promised full “diplomatic protection” to Hirsi Ali as early as 2002.

That offer was made to encourage Hirsi Ali to run in the Dutch parliamentary elections.

Other prominent writers have come to her defense, such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, authors respectively of “The End of Faith” and “God Is Not Great.”

Behind the withdrawal of funding, they argue, is a hypocritical attempt to appease extremists in a misguided search for cultural inclusiveness.

Although other voices have questioned whether the combative Hirsi Ali misrepresents Islam in her writing, it is hard to find anyone outside of the Dutch government defending the move to withdraw her protection.

Headline Links: Author returns to the Netherlands

Background: Van Gogh's murder and immigration issues

The asylum debate

When applying for asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, Hirsi Ali falsified her name and date of birth. She has since apologized for the deception and said that it was necessary to ensure that the husband she had been forced to marry couldn’t find her.

In 2006, the Dutch immigration minister, Rita Verdonk, called for Hirsi Ali to be stripped of her Dutch citizenship. Verdonk, a member of the same political party as Hirsi Ali, eventually backed down. But the affair encouraged the author to resign from The Hague and move to the United States.

Opinion: The Hague, Islam and 'Infidel'

On the Dutch Government
On immoderation among Islam’s critics

Karen Armstrong is a former Catholic nun, a prominent religious scholar, and the author on several well-respected studies of religion.
On Hirsi Ali’s bestselling memoir ‘Infidel’

Reference Material: The death threat and Islam in Europe

Key Players: Hirsi Ali

Hirsi Ali at the American Enterprise Institute

Hirsi Ali is a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, which publishes a short biography and a selection of her publications online.

Related Links: Salman Rushdie and Muslims’ letter to the pope


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