Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I just do not have the time to follow and write about the affair that has been making headlines in the Netherlands for the last few days ( and that has been covered extensively all over Europe and in the US as well ): the case of the provocative, very outspoken and intelligent Islam-critic and member of the Dutch parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who this week was forced to end her career as a parliamentarian, apparently as a direct result of the power struggle within the liberal party of which she is a member (*). In English you can get excellent reports and background information from a Dutch blogger and a Dutch expat blogger. Peaktalk's Pieter wrote an almost prophetic posting more than a year ago: "If you want to succeed in Dutch politics the one thing you can’t have is star-status and on the policy front you need to be able to show some ability for compromise and moderation. Hirsi Ali fails on both counts. [...] She’ll be an asset to any think-tank and be able to influence a far larger audience if she’s given the time and room in a less politicized and much safer place." He also points out what happened to five Dutch politicians and opinion makers "who have tried to initiate a debate [ about Islam, immigration and related problems in the Netherlands, BdB ] and tried to change the direction of the troubled nation ": Frits Bolkestein: Retired Pim Fortuyn: Murdered Theo van Gogh: Murdered Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Humiliated and expelled Rita Verdonk: Disgraced I do understand that Ayaan Hirsi Ali's position in parliament had become untenable, but threats of revoking her citizenship seem to me to be unnecessarily cruel and populist. If you read the feedback on websites ( e.g. that of De Telegraaf, Holland's biggest newspaper ) and on internet fora you will see that some people are really happy with Miss Hirsi Ali's current troubles: Islamists ( and other Muslims as well, obviously ), rightwing extremists and those Dutchmen and -women who still believe that if you ignore a problem long enough it simply does not exist or will disappear eventually. One visitor of the Telegraaf website wrote: "...that stupid chick already caused so much trouble in the Netherlands. Good riddance!" Ayaan Hirsi Ali has often been too provocative and I am not sure if her way of initiating a public debate on certain subjects was the right one, but the problems that she talked and wrote about are real, and they will not become less real by expelling this Dutch-Somali Cassandra. (*): In all the Dutch media coverage that I found I did not read any reaction from Verdonk's main opponent, Mark Rutte. Can any Dutch DBI reader correct me on this? And if not, does that say anything about this witch hunt being a part of the power struggle within the VVD?

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