Tight security, media hypeas threatened MP returns
18 January 2005, AMSTERDAM — Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali is returning to Parliament on Tuesday, ending an absence of several months following death threats levelled against her after the November murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
18 January 2005
AMSTERDAM — Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali is returning to Parliament on Tuesday, ending an absence of several months following death threats levelled against her after the November murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
Soon after the brutal killing it was discovered that Islamic extremists were planning to murder Hirsi Ali. She was then flown by the Dutch military from the airbase Valkenburg on 10 November to the US base Brunswick in the state of Maine.
The two terrorist suspects arrested after a 14-hour stand-off in The Hague on 10 November are accused of planning the Somali-born MP's murder. It has since been revealed that the murder was planned for New Year's Eve, when fireworks would disguise the sound of shooting.
Hirsi Ali is known for her strong criticism of the Islamic faith, having previously called the prophet Mohammed a pervert by modern standards for taking a child bride. She also co-wrote with Van Gogh the film Submission, which took a critical look at domestic violence in Islam.
Her return to parliament — which coincides with the return of MPs from the Christmas recess — is expected to attract a lot of media attention. A press conference at 4pm will be broadcast live on Dutch public radio and television, while journalists from France, Germany and Britain will also attend.
Moreover, Hirsi Ali is also is expected to meet with Lower House chairman Frans Weisglas and be officially reunited with her Liberal VVD colleagues.
The film Submission is believed to be the prime motivation behind Van Gogh's murder and a note left plunged into the filmmaker's stomach with a knife warned that Hirsi Ali was next. She is expected to be flanked by bodyguards on Tuesday, but the exact nature of all security measures is unclear.
What is certain is that parliamentary security was intensified following the murder of Van Gogh and the death threats levelled against Hirsi Ali and right-wing independent MP Geert Wilders. The latter has since returned to the Lower House, also after a period of absence, and has been given a new seat in the parliament to help boost security.
A scanner was installed at the parliament at the start of this week to inspect all bags of visitors and the Dutch intelligence service AIVD has conducted an investigation into security, offering several recommendations. The measures taken were not directly linked to Hirsi Ali's return, but instead to general parliamentary security.
Meanwhile, the VVD has indicated that Hirsi Ali will give a statement at the start of February regarding domestic violence and the radicalisation of Islamic youth. It was previously revealed that she is planning a follow-up to the film Submission and is writing a book to point out a short-cut to enlightenment for Muslims.
VVD parliamentary leader Jozias van Aartsen urged in Groningen on Monday for the party to regain its Liberal heritage. Despite demanding a tough crackdown on intolerance, he also said the party should not focus on the heart of religion, but rather such elements as incitement to hate and violence.
The VVD — along with several other parties — has been calling in recent years for the Netherlands to get tough on immigration and integration and Van Aartsen said sermons, religious lessons at schools, satellite television broadcasts and internet pages must be kept under tight surveillance. His statement was perceived as being thinly veiled to refer in particular to the Islamic faith.
But Van Aartsen also said the party should take as example the tolerance employed in the 16 and 17th centuries. He asserted that the VVD should only be concerned about the edges of religion, such as actions and words, rather than the religion itself.
The Netherlands has experienced a wave of social tension in recent years, heightened after the murder of Van Gogh in Amsterdam as mosques and churches were hit in retaliatory vandalism and arson attacks.
The move against immigration and a shifted focus towards integration was first highlighted by the rise and fall of assassinated politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002, but the current political climate was brewing well before Fortuyn famously said "the Netherlands is full".
The Dutch government is now in the midst of plans to make immigrants integrate and is also moving to restrict the possibility of holding dual nationality. But amid the government's agenda aimed at easing social tension, a pro-Islamic party called Muslim Democratic Party (MDP) is in the making to represent the rights of Muslims living in the Netherlands.
[Copyright Expatica News + Novum Nieuws 2005]
Subject: Dutch news