May 17, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi Ali No Longer Dutch?

Though the Dutch parliament has insisted on an appeal, as reported by Al Jazeera, the most famous Dutch politician outside the Netherlands was notified that she would be stripped of her Dutch passport because of a lie on her application for asylum. Ali used her grandfather's last name and an incorrect birthdate to prevent her family in Somalia from tracking her down and forcing her into an arranged marriage. However, this has apparently been public knowledge since her successful 2002 run for office and a subject she discussed while campaigning.

It's unclear why immigration minister Rita Verdonk considered this a pressing matter. Al Jazeera's report notes that Verdonk, a member of the same political party as Ali, has been jockeying to be the lead candidate in the next election cycle. Though considering the outrage over this step, while it's apparently in keeping with her hardline approach to rejecting as many asylum seekers and immigrants as possible, she may have lost that chance for good.

Spiegel reports that whatever her current circumstances, she's got plenty of bright prospects for the future:

... But it seems that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has already moved on. After an hour she returns to her guests and announces the good news. The US ambassador in The Hague, she says, has assured her "that he will do everything in his power to help me move to the United States." In fact, the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, has already offered her a job. ...

So, it looks like we might have a prospective citizen here in the U.S., and all to the good. It isn't every day that a dark-skinned third world asylum seeker from a muslim country gets red carpet immigration service. And considering that the reason for that is largely the influence of the Republican party and the media power of groups like the American Enterprise Institute, I'd be disappointed to see her end up as another right wing token spokesentity.

Indeed, while the AEI has a persuasive and thoughtful body of pro-immigration work, their network of allies on the right have gained much of their power and influence by pandering to and inflaming exactly the sort of xenophobia that's been increasingly gripping the Netherlands. Witness Lou Dobbs, the Minutemen, Bill Frist and Michelle Malkin. Alarm over immigration has been a recurring theme in European political debates and was brought to a frenzy among the Dutch following the high-profile murder of Theo Van Gogh by a muslim angry over a film he produced critical of Islam, and in which Ali appeared, building on the public shock over the assassination of politician Pim Fortuyn for his ardently anti-immigrant and anti-muslim political views. As the Al Jazeera story notes above, polls indicate that 49% of the Dutch public agrees with the decision to revoke Ali's passport, reflecting serious disquiet about the immigration issue that Verdonk was doubtless hoping to capitalize on.

It's a rare person with the capacity to both become fluent in a new language as an adult and assimilate into another culture so well that you can pursue a career in politics in an adopted country. While I'm glad in any case that America seems likely to take her in, it would be nice to see a progressive organization step up and try to recruit this intelligent and mediagenic woman. She could make the case for welcoming immigrants, preferably on behalf of the side in the American political debate that supports their interests as a matter of policy, like no one else.

Update: Commentors at the dKos diary version of this post and at Oui's diary at Booman Tribune disagree. She is characterized as an inveterate liar and an active promoter of xenophobic policies, as well as having made irresponsible comments about Islam. Also, she is apparently from Kenya, as a recent documentary claims. I must confess that I don't have the background on the issue to know if all the claims against her are true and I'm not exactly a big fan of Dutch politics, though I would hesitate to judge her politically only on the basis of the right-left frames that exist in the US.

Most right wing politicians in the EU, for example, argue about socialist welfare programs only in terms of how much and how to administer them, and in this debate even the British Tory party is somewhat to the left of many Democrats. The strongest obvious right-left divide in Europe is generally centered around immigration and asylum and as noted above, AEI fellows have spilled considerable amounts of ink in favor of a pro-immigration position, so it seems far from obvious to me that she would be looking to join them in order to fuel xenophobia against immigrants here as alleged.

Posted by natasha at May 17, 2006 02:33 PM | International | Technorati links |

A liar is always a liar. This woman is full of lies, lied about everything including her date of birth. I am an Asian, born on Kenya and I am a British citizen (not muslim, jew or christian)if you think I am bias. I think it does not take more than a second to see the filth and dirt burried deeper inside the head of this woman. She may be saying things that some people like to hear now, this is only a show, liars can stage a good show, ushc shows come to an end sooner that later. I am aure this woman is fooling everyone around her. We don't want her in Europe.

Posted by: Mark at May 21, 2006 02:01 PM

Please listen the speach of ayan at the Jewish Cummunity in America. She said "I use to hate you", if you listen her carefully, what she is saying is that the people in Somalia think that the Jewish get even blamed for everything including lack of rain, proverty and all and evry bad thing that may happen. What she does not know is that there were so many Jewish business people who lived in Somalia peacefully for many years to the time of the cicil war in Somalia. I think this woman is trying to achieve things I cannot even think about it now. I know she is creating bad feeling between so many people. I am so ashamed to learn she was once a Somali girl. If she was born in 1967-69 then this means Siyad Barre was was even in power and her father was not even "as yet" in conflict of political opinion with the new Revolutionary Leader. Her move to Saudi Arabia for a year must have been 12 months of semi-house arrest beacuse she was too young to leave the house or as usual woman don't wonder around town in that country at that time. Her move to Ethiopia and to Kenya makes her an east african kid than a Somali youngester, and schooling in Kenya makes her Somali/Kenyan or SUJU, her coming to Germany in year 1992 at the age of about 21 to 23 years old she must have been totally a young woman, confused by the different countries and cultures she was living under. The story of her becoming a refugee in Netherlands and her studies in University in Leiden say 8 years in total is when she lost her sense of direction and started to use Netherlands to stage world class stardom in theatre of world politics. My conclusion about this woman is that either she is very thick, sick in the head, hungry for fame or totally insane. She abusing the dignity of the very people she suppose to fight for their freedom. She is insulting every good thing her family stood for and she is really wicked person. I am Somali, born in Somalia, studied and qualified from two universities in the west, paid tax for over 19 years and contributed possively to new the country I adopted and made mine, of which I AM READY TO FIGHT AND DIE FOR. Without me claiming benefits or asking asylum and lying about my my life, I lived in the UK for over 25 years. Bought three house, fathered 2 kinds and married locally here in London. I never ever heard someone as wicked as this woman called Ayan Hirsi Ali. My seven sisters are all married, no one of them been subjected to an arranged marriage. My mum's marriage to my dad was arrange but, it lasted 45 years till my parents parted by a sudden death of my father. I have 4 other brothers, 2 married and two are still single, the married ones have never been put to an arranged marriage. I never heard honour killings in Somalia, and I never heard the things she is saying in the Media, muslim men beating their woman back home or in the west. This woman must be coming from another planet, I feel sorry for the people who are taking her seriously, this is fake woman by nature and she is not real. By all means, I do not agree anyone threatening her life for she is entitled to bark like a dog for ever. She is not even worth talking about her. She is useful for some evil people, they are the ones who need to useneed her, she needs the money and may be the fame that goes with the job. WHAT A JOB WHAT A LIFE.

Posted by: Bash at May 21, 2006 02:53 PM