Coalition closes ranks for latest Verdonk debate
28 June 2006, AMSTERDAM — MPs of the main coalition parties have declared themselves to be happy with the unique way Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk resolved the Ayaan Hirsi Ali affair.
28 June 2006
AMSTERDAM — MPs of the main coalition parties have declared themselves to be happy with the unique way Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk resolved the Ayaan Hirsi Ali affair.
But Verdonk faces a grilling from the opposition in parliament on Wednesday evening, the latest in a series of encounters between the Minister and MPs. In particular, she will be asked to explain the signed statement by Hirsi Ali in which she absolves Verdonk of any blame for suggesting her Dutch naturalisation was invalid.
Speaking from the US, Hirsi Ali confirmed on Tuesday evening that the statement had been written for her by government officials. Declining to repeat the suggestion she was put under pressure to sign, Hirsi Ali said she went along with the statement for practical reasons.
She is rushing to finalise her visa application for the US and was given to understand the question of whether she was entitled to hold a Dutch passport would be resolved all the quicker if she signed the statement exonerating Verdonk.
Labour Party leader Wouter Bos said the Netherlands was a "banana republic" if it was true that the Minister had pressured Hirsi Ali into agreeing to the statement.
Justice ministry officials attached the statement to copies of a letter sent to parliament to confirm Hirsi Ali is a Dutch citizen.
Verdonk provoked a storm of protest in the Netherlands and internationally in mid-May when she gave the Somali-born critic of Islam six weeks to explain why her Dutch passport should not be withdrawn.
Hirsi Ali's self-confessed crime was that she had given a false name to get asylum in the Netherlands in 1992. Her real name was Ayaan Hirsi Magan, not Ali – which is her grandfather's name.
She was naturalised under the 'false name' in 1997 and became an MP for the Liberal Party (VVD) in 2003. The world now knows her as Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
The Minister's officials decided her naturalisation was in doubt on the basis of a lightning investigation conducted while Verdonk was in the middle of a race to become VVD leader. The review was prompted by a television documentary in which Hirsi Ali admitted again she had used a false name to get asylum.
Although Hirsi Ali was open since 2002 about using the false name, Verdonk claimed never to have heard this before.
Verdonk's supporters praised the Minister's commitment to the law but most MPs, including VVD lawmakers, demanded that Hirsi Ali be allowed to keep her Dutch passport. Verdonk was defeated in the leadership election.
Hirsi Ali resigned as an MP and announced she was accelerating her plans to move to the US to work for a neo-Conservative think tank.
The statement on Tuesday puts the blame on herself for the political fiasco. Verdonk officials wrote that Hirsi Ali actually had not lied about her name as she was entitled under Somali law to use the name Ali.
Putting words into Hirsi Ali's mouth, the ministry officials wrote:
"Contrary to what I have sometimes said in the past, the name Ali really does belong to me," she said in the statement. Therefore, she had not actually lied about her identity. "I regret that I have put her [Verdonk] on the wrong track by this".
It ended by saying that she has "complete understanding" for the way the Minister had dealt with the matter.
Hirsi Ali said in an interview shown late on Tuesday that the words in the statement were not her own.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news