Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Netherlands Loss, America's Gain

For those of us here in the United States, you should get used to seeing this face, as you'll probably be seeing her in the news a lot in the coming years.

The face is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, undoubtedly one of the most controversial figures in Europe. Hirsi Ali, originally from Somalia, went to the Netherlands as a refugee in 1992, became a citizen, and since 2003 has been serving as a member of parliament. What makes Hirsi Ali controversial, however, is her critical views on Islam and on women in Islam, which have earned her numerous death threats from Islamic extremists in the Netherlands. Two years ago, when Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered, the letter pinned to his body was a death threat against Hirsi Ali.

And, in a real shocker, she has resigned her seat in the Dutch parliament and is moving to the United States.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has faced an assault on two major fronts this past week. A few days ago, a group of fellow owners in the building she lives in won a court injunction forcing her to leave - the result of the constant threats on her life, and the security apparatus necessitated by it (armed guards, bulletproof glass, etc.). Then, on another front, it was revealed that she was untruthful on her refugee application in 1992, lying about how she's arrived in the Netherlands and her true family name. The Dutch immigration minister announced that Hirsi Ali's citizenship was null and void, and that her passport was being revoked. Shortly after this, Hirsi Ali announced that she is resigning her seat in parliament, leaving the Netherlands, and taking up a fellowship with the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

If Ayaan Hirsi Ali does come to Washington, I am sure we will be seeing a lot of her in the newspapers - she does not seem the type to stay on the sidelines.

I have a great respect for people who are willing to jeopardize their own wellbeing to promote ideas they believe are right. People like Ayaan Hirsi Ali benefit our society by questioning the status quo and stimulating constructive debate; and, it is through this debate that our society continually improves itself. For this reason, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is now the Netherlands' loss, and America's gain.