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Hirsi Ali exonerates Verdonk for passport gaffe

ANP, via, Netherlands
June 27, 2006 • Tuesday June 27, 2006

AMSTERDAM Ayaan Hirsi Ali has released a statement that totally exonerates Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk for suggesting her Dutch naturalisation was invalid.

Justice ministry officials attached the statement to copies of a letter being sent to parliament to confirm Hirsi Ali is a Dutch citizen.

Verdonk provoked a storm of protest both in the Netherlands and internationally in mid-May when she gave the Somali-born critic of Islam six weeks to explain why her Dutch passport should not be withdraw.

Hirsi Ali’s self-confessed crime was that she had given a false name to get asylum in the Netherlands in 1992. Her real name was Ayaan Hirsi Magan, not Ali which is her grandfather’s name.

She was naturalised under the ‘false name’ in 1997 and became an MP for the Liberal Party (VVD) in 2003. The world now knows her as Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

The Minister’s officials decided her naturalisation was in doubt on the basis of a lightning investigation conducted as Verdonk was in the middle of a race to become VVD leader. The review was prompted by a television documentary in which Hirsi Ali admitted again that she had used a false name to get asylum.

Although Hirsi Ali was open since 2002 about using the false name, Verdonk claimed never to have heard this before.

Verdonk’s supporters praised the Minister’s commitment to the law but most MPs, including VVD lawmakers, demanded that Hirsi Ali be allowed to keep her Dutch passport. Verdonk was defeated in the leadership election.

Hirsi Ali resigned as an MP and announced she was accelerating her plans to move to the US to work for a neo-Conservative think tank.

Her statement on Tuesday puts the blame on herself for the political fiasco. She writes that she actually had not lied about her name as she was entitled under Somali law to use the name Ali.

“Contrary to what I have sometimes said in the past, the name Ali really does belong to me,” she said in the statement. Therefore, she had not actually lied about her identity. “I regret that I have put her [Verdonk] on the wrong track by this”.

She wrote that she has “complete understanding” for the way the Minister had dealt with the matter.

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