Not Dutch

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Not Dutch

However bizarre the scandals in which various Congressmen find themselves these days, it's hard to match the story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali (not her real name, which turns out to be the big problem). After all, whatever Tom DeLay's sins, he didn't wake up one morning to find out he wasn't a U.S. citizen.

Hirsi Ali's story has gotten big enough to hit the New York Times. I'm still quite confused over the details, but here's the basic scoop:

Hirsi Ali is one of the highest-profile members of the Dutch Parliament. She is a member of the Liberal Party, which is a member of the center-right governing coalition and has what Americans would think of as a pro-business conservative platform. Despite her youth (36, I think), she has already garnered considerable fame for her outspokenness. In particular, she has taken a very critical attitude toward the treatment of women in Islam. She herself is a Muslim from Somalia, but she was also the author of a short film directed by Theo van Gogh in which verses from the Koran were painted on the bodies of naked women--the film that led to van Gogh's murder. The murderer wrote a note saying Hirsi Ali was going to be next and plunged a knife through the note and into van Gogh's body. Since then, Hirsi Ali has been under guard.

For reasons that aren't clear to me, the government has recently looked into the fact that she lied in her application for asylum and her application for Dutch citizenship. The reason it isn't clear is that it's been known for quite a while that she lied, and I'm not sure what new information has recently come to light to bring up the issue again. But, according to my Dutch lawyer friends, the Dutch Supreme Court has made it clear that if a person obtains citizenship under a false name, the person never really becomes a citizen, so that when the falsehood is uncovered, it's not even a matter of stripping the person of citizenship: the government simply points out that the person never was a citizen. This is what happened to Hirsi Ali. Ali is her mother's maiden name.

One thing that's made this case particularly tricky is that it's under the jurisdiction of Minister Verdonk, who is in charge of immigration. She's become well-known for her generally hawkish approach. She's also a member of the Liberal Party, which means that it would have been a bit awkward for her to be seen to give Hirsi Ali special treatment.

So, apparently, Verdonk called Hirsi Ali yesterday and told her she's not Dutch after all.

To top it off, Hirsi Ali's neighbors won a case forcing her to move out of her home because of the problems her security arrangements cause them (I'd really be interested in the legal reasoning behind that decision, which seems very odd to an American lawyer).

Hirsi Ali says she is shocked, but she's already preparing to move to the U.S. to work for the American Enterprise Institute (this should give you an idea of where she is politically).

What I'm wondering is how she's going to enter the U.S. without a passport. She lived in Kenya for many years, I believe, but I don't think she has either a Kenyan or a Somali passport.

Something tells me the AEI has the connections to get a visa arranged for her on special terms.

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