The Dutch Cabinet says it will no longer pay for the protection of former MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali outside the country.
The former Dutch politician of Somali origin has been repeatedly threatened because of her outspoken pronouncements against Muslim extremism and her views on the role of women in Islamic society.
The Hague says that since Ms Hirsi Ali recently obtained a residence permit in the United States – where she is employed by the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute – she should find sponsors to pay for her own security.
During a parliamentary debate on the issue it became clear that a majority of the Dutch parliament supports the Cabinet’s decision. Ayaan Hirsi Ali returned to the Netherlands on 1st October because the Dutch government had stopped paying for her security.
While Ms Hirsi Ali remains in hiding, her supporters in the Netherlands have been criticising the government, which they say is willing to let her be killed out of pure stinginess.
The government has denied her lawyer’s claim that it had promised to pay for her security outside the country for an unlimited period. The Hague says that she was notified several times that it would stop paying for her protection and that it extended the payments for two one-month periods. The government says an opinion poll shows that 90 percent of the Dutch population supports its decision not to pay for her protection.
Ms Hirsi Ali’s lawyer, Britta Böhler, sent a number of “confidential” documents to parliament in order to support her case. Several parties said the documents were classified and that Ms Hirsi Ali’s behaviour was “scandalous”. However Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin refused to comment on the issue, which played no role in the debate.
MPs from Ms Hirsi Ali’s former party, the conservative VVD, disagree about whether or not she should raise funds for her own security. Ms Hirsi Ali says that she couldn’t do this before because she only recently obtained a US Green Card, which allows her to work and live in the country on a permanent basis. However, Minister Hirsch Ballin says her employer, the American Enterprise Institute, could also pay for her protection.
At the end of the parliamentary debate several MPs submitted a motion calling on the government to pay for Ms Hirsi Ali’s protection for “a reasonable period”. However, there is not enough support for the motion since a majority says the government has done its share.
On the same day, an article co-written by the Indian-British author Salman Rushdie and US writer Sam Harris appeared in The Los Angeles Times. Salman Rushdie, who enjoys British protection because of a death threat (fatwa) issued by former Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei following publication of his book ‘The Satanic Verses’, condemned the Dutch authorities for not offering Ayaan Hirsi Ali the same protection he receives. He says the Dutch government is delivering Ms Hirsi Ali to Muslim fanatics. However, a large majority in the Dutch parliament does not seem to be worried about the effect its decision could have on the country’s image abroad.