Hirsi Ali was never a Dutch citizen, Verdonk rules
16 May 2006
AMSTERDAM — Outspoken Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali has reacted with shock to the news she was never a citizen of the Netherlands. If true, she was not entitled to be a member of parliament since 2002.
“I am speechless,” the native of Somalia told the New York Times. Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk informed her by telephone on Monday evening that a preliminary investigation has found she probably never attained the status of a naturalised Dutch citizen. This is because she lied to get asylum five years earlier. She has six weeks to reply to the Minister’s ruling.
There is legal precedent in the Netherlands for the argument that a person who lies to get asylum automatically invalidates that status and any subsequent naturalisation.
Hirsi Ali, who has received death threats for her criticism of aspects of Islam, said Verdonk’s decision was an attempt to silence her. “I was totally devoted to my work in the [Dutch] parliament and I have taken many risks. Others will think twice before they speak out,” she warned.
Friends revealed on Monday afternoon that Hirsi Ali plans to resign from parliament in September and relocate to the US to take up a job with a conservative Washington think tank.
Within hours the situation had changed. She is to give a press conference on Tuesday when she is expected to announce she is resigning with immediate effect as an MP and moving to the US.
Verdonk launched an investigation into Hirsi Ali’s 1997 naturalisation on Saturday as a result of the outcry generated by a television programme in which Hirsi Ali confirmed she had given a false name and date of birth when she sought asylum in the Netherlands in 1992.
She told immigration officials that she had fled from Somalia, via Kenya, to escape an arranged marriage. This was at least partially untrue as she had been living with refugee status in Kenya for over 10 years.
Hirsi Ali admitted to the lies when she joined the Dutch Liberal Party in 2002. Her party dismissed the significant of the television report when it was aired on Thursday. Verdonk who is seeking to lead the Liberals into the 2007 general election, said on Friday Hirsi Ali had nothing to fear.
But soon after that everything began to unravel for Hirsi Ali. Questions were asked why she should be treated differently from other asylum seekers who have been stripped of their status and Dutch citizenship for lying on their applications.
A meeting of the VVD leadership was hastily convened to discuss the crisis on Monday afternoon and Verdonk was asked to hold off until after Hirsi Ali’s press conference. The meeting was stunned to hear Verdonk was going ahead to announce her preliminary decision that evening.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news + Ayaan Hirsi Ali