AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: Former legislator Ayaan Hirsi Ali, threatened with death for her anti-Islam writings, returned to the Netherlands on Monday after the Dutch government refused to continue paying for her bodyguards in the United States, a newspaper reported.
Hirsi Ali, 37, has been under police protection since 2004 when a radical Muslim murdered Theo van Gogh, her collaborator in a film critical of Islam, and left a letter threatening her impaled in his chest with a knife. The killer is serving a life sentence.
Hirsi Ali moved to the United States in 2006 to join the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington. The daily NRC Handelsblad reported that Hirsi Ali returned early Monday and was taken to a safe-house at an undisclosed location.
Institute spokeswoman Veronique Rodman said she could not confirm the report, but Hirsi Ali remains a “valued scholar” at the AEI.
The Dutch Justice Ministry referred all questions to the country’s anti-terrorism coordinator’s office, but spokesman Wim Kok said he could not comment on Hirsi Ali’s security arrangements.
A senior member of parliament, Sybrand van Haersma Buma, defended the government’s stance.
Van Haersma Buma, who addresses security policy for the ruling Christian Democrat Party, said the Dutch government had only agreed to pay for security during Hirsi Ali’s first year abroad because of the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding her departure.
“It was a temporary measure,” he said in an interview with Dutch NOS television Monday. “The responsibility for her security should be taken on by the U.S. government.”
He argued that it was impossible for the Netherlands to know what level of security would be appropriate for Hirsi Ali while she was in another country.
Born in Somalia, Hirsi Ali immigrated to the Netherlands in 1992 and became a member of parliament. But she resigned last year when the immigration minister tried to revoke her Dutch passport for giving false information in her immigration application 14 years earlier. After an international outcry, the hardline minister, Rita Verdonk, was forced to back down.
The U.S. government said at the time that Hirsi Ali was welcome in the country, and the U.S. immigration service awarded her permanent residency last week.
It was not clear whether her return to the Netherlands was triggered by the Dutch government dropping payment for her security arrangements after she received U.S. permanent residency.
NRC Handelsblad reported she plans to return to the U.S. once she has arranged for private funding of her protection.
Earlier this year, she published “Infidel,” which became a U.S. best-seller.