Somali-born politician to keep Dutch citizenship – Europe – International Herald Tribune
Hirsi Ali to keep Dutch citizenship
Reuters, The Associated Press, The New York Times
Published: June 27, 2006
AMSTERDAM A Somali-born Dutch politician and outspoken critic of Islam is to be allowed to keep her Dutch citizenship despite admitting that she lied in her asylum application, the Dutch government said Tuesday.
The politician, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, resigned from Parliament in May and said she would leave the country after the immigration minister, Rita Verdonk, a member of Hirsi Ali’s own VVD liberal party, told her she might lose her citizenship.
Verdonk’s decision created an uproar in Parliament, which demanded that she find a way out of the embarrassment.
The situation was resolved late Monday when Dutch cabinet members agreed that Hirsi Ali, whose real name is Hirsi Magan, should not be stripped of her citizenship.
Verdonk told Parliament on Tuesday that Hirsi Ali would be able to keep her Dutch nationality.
Hirsi Ali, 36, had admitted using a false name and date of birth when she arrived in the Netherlands in 1992. Dutch cabinet members agreed that because she used her grandfather’s name, which is allowed under Somali law, the false claim would not be held against her.
In a published statement, Hirsi Ali said that she would continue to use Hirsi Ali as her name and regretted giving the authorities the wrong impression about her identity.
“Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s identity has been sufficiently verified and for this reason she has indeed obtained Dutch nationality,” Verdonk said in a statement, explaining that her initial decision to strip Hirsi Ali of Dutch citizenship was not based on a full understanding of the circumstances of her name change.
On her asylum application Hirsi Ali also pretended that she had come to the Netherlands from war-torn Somalia, rather than via Kenya and Germany. Refugees are usually required to apply for asylum in the first safe country they reach after fleeing. However, she said those facts had been public knowledge when the VVD chose her as a candidate for Parliament in 2002.
Hirsi Ali had been living under the protection of bodyguards since 2002 but went deeper into hiding in 2004 when an Islamic militant killed the filmmaker Theo van Gogh after he directed a film, “Submission,” for which she wrote the script.
The short film showed four fictional Muslim women praying and lamenting about their abuse. In some scenes the partly dressed women had Koranic text painted on their skin.
Many Muslims considered the film blasphemous.
Hirsi Ali was in the United States on Tuesday looking for a house in the Washington area, where she has accepted a position with the conservative research institute, the American Enterprise Institute, beginning in September.
She told Dutch television that she was “very thankful and proud” to have her passport back. Asked if she was forced to express her regrets and take the blame in a statement she issued Tuesday, she said: “It was a political compromise. For me a quick resolution of the problem was much more important than a bit of pride.” It was clear, she added, that “if I made that statement the issue would be resolved.”
In a statement released simultaneously with Verdonk’s letter, Hirsi Ali said she regretted the confusion over her name. She said her admission of lying had been a mistake since the name she adopted was legitimate.