I’m leaving but will continue my work: Hirsi Ali
16 May 2006
AMSTERDAM — MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali told an emotional press conference on Tuesday that the decision by Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk she is not entitled to Dutch citizenship is a “disproportionate sanction”.
The lawmaker called the press conference to announce she is leaving the Netherlands, where she has built up a reputation as a critic of Islam and a defender of women’s rights.
A native of Somalia, Hirsi Ali gave a false name and date of birth when she sought asylum in the Netherlands in 1992 from an arranged marriage. She became a naturalised Dutch citizen in 1997.
Although Hirsi Ali has been open about the lies since she joined the Dutch Liberal Party (VVD) in 2002, Verdonk ruled on Monday that the lies invalidated Hirsi Ali’s asylum status and subsequent naturalisation. This means Hirsi Ali was never a Dutch citizen and should not have been a member of parliament for the VVD since 2003. Hirsi Ali told the press conference she is fighting the Minister’s decision.
Her voice sounding deeper than usual, Hirsi Ali said: “I came to Holland in the summer of 1992 because I wanted to be able to determine my own future. I didn’t want to be forced into a destiny that other people had chosen for me, so I opted for the protection of the rule of law. Here in Holland, I found freedom and opportunities, and I took those opportunities to speak out against religious terror.”
She became an MP in January 2003. “First of all I wanted to put the oppression of immigrant women – especially Muslim women – squarely on the Dutch political agenda. Second, I wanted Holland to pay attention to the specific cultural and religious issues that were holding back many ethnic minorities, instead of always taking a one-sided approach that focused only on their socio-economic circumstances.
“Lastly, I wanted politicians to grasp the fact that major aspects of Islamic doctrine and tradition, as practised today, are incompatible with the open society.”
She said she had stumbled often in her political career and it had sometimes been frustrating and slow. “However, I am completely certain that I have, in my own way, succeeded in contributing to the debate.”
“Meanwhile, the ideas which I espouse have begun spreading to other countries. In recent years I have given speeches and attended debates in many European countries and in the United States. For months now, I have felt that I needed to make a decision: should I go on in Dutch politics, or should I now transfer my ideas to an international forum?”
Describing the Minister’s decision on her naturalisation as disproportional, Hirsi Ali explained there were associated reasons for her leaving.
“It is common knowledge that threats against my life began building up ever since I first talked about Islam publicly, in the spring of 2002. Months before I even entered politics, my freedom of movement was greatly curtailed, and that became worse after Theo van Gogh was murdered in 2004.
“I have been obliged to move house so many times I have lost count. The direct cause for the ending of my membership in parliament is that on April 27 of this year, a Dutch court ruled that I must once again leave my home, because my neighbours filed a complaint that they could not feel safe living next to me.”
The Dutch government is appealing this court decision. However, she said, that appeal did not alter her situation. “I have to leave my apartment by the end of August.”
Concluding her statement, Hirsi Ali said: “Ladies and Gentlemen, as of today, I resign from Parliament. I regret that I will be leaving the Netherlands, the country which has given me so many opportunities and enriched my life, but I am glad that I will be able to continue my work. I will go on.”
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news