A new affair in the Netherlands, this time around Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of the most outspoken proponents of free speech in the wake of increasing Islam intimidation, and under permanent government protection because of that. Last year she featured on TIME's 2005 list of the '100 most influential leaders and revolutionaries in the world', but a few days ago Dutch TV program Zembla tracked her record and confirmed that she intentionally lied when she applied for her refugee status in the Netherlands.
This is quite embarrassing in the ligth of her liberal party's harsh anti-immigration policy, so Rita Verdonk, our Minister of Immigration and Integration (yes, the same one that wants to send Christians back to 'safe' Iran) decided that she was not entitled to Dutch citizenship. As a result, Hirsi Ali stepped back from her position as MP and announced that she will move to America for her new job with the American Enterprise Institute, a thinktank that advices George W.
The affair is embarrassing on many fronts. First of all, Hirsi Ali intentionally lied about her story and was not entitled to Dutch citizenship. The current Dutch immigration policy is such that other people in the same situation as her would have been sent back. Interestingly, Hirsi Ali has always been open about the fact that she gave incorrect information at the immigration office. No-one bothered to care, until now. The leaders of her political party knew about it, but put her up for the parliamentary elections, because it was good for their results. Now their own minister is kicking the ball because she thinks it's good for her reputation in the run-up for party leadership (she's wrong on this one, and yesterday the Parliament strongly criticised her).
In the meantime Hirsi Ali's international audience doesn't understand the Dutch anymore; how can they withdraw citizenship from someone who displayed so much political courage, and is an international champion of freedom that the Dutch should be proud of? How will this end? It's a complicated mix of personal ambition, lack of integrity, administrative mistakes, political correctness, and pragmatism. Is there a healthy way out?