Ayaan Hirsi Ali leaves Dutch Parliament

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dutch Member of Parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali has announced she will leave parliament, after Minister of Immigration and Integration Rita Verdonk announced that Hirsi Ali never obtained Dutch citizenship.

In a press conference an emotional Ayaan Hirsi Ali announced that she will leave parliament and move to the United States to work with the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute in September after reaching a deal with US authorities concerning her security. Originally she was to have moved to the USA in May of 2007. In national paliament she will be replaced by Amsterdam government member Laetitia Griffith starting June 1.

The direct reason for Hirsi Ali's departure, is that Minister for Immigration and Integration and fellow party-member, Rita Verdonk has announced that Hirsi Ali never obtained Dutch citizenship, because she lied in her application for refugee status in the Netherlands. She claimed to be a refugee directly from war-torn Somalia and to have only narrowly escaped the threat of forced marriage. In fact, she had held a refugee status in Kenya at the time. She changed her name and date of birth.

These facts, which Hirsi Ali previously divulged, were reported last Thursday (11 May 2006) by the Dutch television program "Zembla". She had already informed the public of these aspects of the story of her immigration to the Netherlands as early as September 2002 in an interview in the political magazine HP/De Tijd.

Media speculations arose that she could lose her Dutch Citizenship because of this 'identity fraud', rendering her ineligible for Parliament. In a first reaction Minister Rita Verdonk said she would not look into the matter, but after Member of Parliament Hilbrand Nawijn insisted, she declared that she would investigate Hirsi Ali's naturalisation process. This investigation took three days. The findings were that Hirsi Ali never received Dutch citizenship after all, because she lied about her name and date of birth. She pretended to be Ayaan Hirsi Ali, born in 1967, but official records say Ayaan Hirsi Magan, born in 1969. Therefore Verdonk's position was that Hirsi Ali never received Dutch citizenship. After accusation by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende she works too much on her own and lacks team spirit she said to have no doubt Ayaan will be returned citizenship of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

On May 16, Hirsi Ali resigned from Parliament after admitting lying on her asylum application. Hirsi Ali has announced that she will move to the United States in September 2006. There she will work on finishing her book Shortcut to Enlightenment and working for the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute. In a reaction, former VVD-leader Hans Wiegel stated that her departure "would not be a loss to the VVD and not be a loss to the Tweede Kamer". Wiegel said that Hirsi Ali was a brave woman, but that her points of view were polarizing. Former parliamentary leader of the VVD, Jozias van Aartsen, was more positive about Hirsi Ali, saying that it is "painful for Dutch society and politics that she is leaving the Tweede Kamer".

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been a member of parliament for the liberal Dutch People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and is known for her controversial positions on the relationship between women and islam.

The events surrounding Ayaan Hirsi Ali has had considerable effects on Dutch politics:

  • European Commissioner Neelie Kroes withdraws her support for Rita Verdonk in the race of presidency of their party in favour of Mark Rutte.
  • Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende stated that the VVD will possibly no longer be part of a next administration.


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