AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Cabinet has promised it will act quickly to protect seriously threatened immigrant women, many of whom are Islamic and living in fear of an “honour killing”.
The cabinet partially met an impassioned plea from Liberal VVD MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who threatened during an emotional parliamentary debate on Thursday to lodge a “motion of sadness” against Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner.
Hirsi Ali, an outspoken critic of Islam, said Donner was not doing enough to protect Islamic women. In fact, she claimed the Christian Democrat CDA minister had never woken up from fairytale land, news service NOS reported.
But the motion against Donner was not tabled because the VVD faction thought such an emotionally-charged move was too extreme.
During the quickly-convened emergency debate, Donner said he would contact as soon as possible the Shelter Federation and municipal councils. The federation claims about 100 women in shelters are still in danger.
The Dutch Parliament demanded the debate after Donner and Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk refused to carry out a motion lodged with the Lower House last year. That motion had called on authorities to take extra measures to protect threatened women.
But the refusal eventually proved to be a misunderstanding after Verdonk confessed she refused to carry out the motion because she wrongly thought it had not been approved by MPs last year. She apologised to the parliament, while Donner said he had not had enough time to examine the motion in depth.
Hirsi Ali’s actions led to a tense meeting between Donner, Verdonk and VVD parliamentary leader Jozias van Aartsen in The Hague. Van Aartsen said the friction between the cabinet and Hirsi Ali could have been prevented if both the cabinet and the parliament had been clearer.
But Hirsi Ali also drew criticism from VVD MPs, some of whom felt her emotional response to the matter placed the cabinet’s future at threat.
A motion of sadness is not as strong a motion of no confidence, but if passed, it would have represented a very sensitive rap over the knuckles for Donner.
Nevertheless, other political parties also believe that the cabinet needs to crack down on honour killings and violence carried out by Islamic men hoping to cleanse a family’s honour. Wives, daughters and sisters are primarily the victims.
A 37-year-old man who shot and killed his 32-year-old wife in front of a refuge for battered women in Koog aan de Zaan, near Zaandam, was sentenced to a nine-year jail term and indefinite psychiatric detention by Haarlem Court last December.
But the court dismissed claims the murder was an “honour killing”. Nevertheless, the woman was killed on 12 March after seeking shelter at the house due to domestic abuse. The man, G. B., of Apeldoorn, tracked her down via the internet and shot her from a passing car.