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Dutch Courage

[COMMENT:  There are wonderful, courageous people in every nation and religion and people group.  And there are cowards.  Thanks be to God that America has given refuge to a heroine.  This is not the first formerly Muslim woman to speak out at the risk of her life.  I hope she finds Jesus.    E. Fox]
 

A Muslim dissenter is no longer welcome in Holland.

 BY DANIEL SCHWAMMENTHAL

Sunday, May 21, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

 

America welcomed a victim of political and religious

persecution this week. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been living

for years with death threats for her criticisms of

radical Islam. But in the end it was not her former

coreligionists who have caused her to seek refuge in

the U.S. It was rather the native-born citizens of her

adopted country, the Netherlands, that drove her off.

If the reader will forgive a little indulgence in the

soft bigotry of low expectations, it is the role of

her fellow Dutchmen that is most worthy of contempt in

this tale.

 

Ms. Hirsi Ali first achieved international prominence

when Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh was stabbed to

death on an Amsterdam street in 2004. The killer

pinned a five-page manifesto to his victim's chest

with the knife he'd used to kill him. The letter was

titled "Open Letter to Hirsi Ali."

 

Ms. Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born Dutch immigrant, a

female member of the Dutch Parliament and an outspoken

critic of Islam, particularly Islamic attitudes toward

women. Ms. Hirsi Ali had scripted Van Gogh's film

"Submission," on the mistreatment of Muslim women.

 

For making this film, Van Gogh was killed and, the

letter from his killer explained, Ms. Hirsi Ali was

condemned to "torture and agony." Holy war against the

U.S. and Europe was also threatened. Already under

police protection since 2002 for having renounced her

faith, Ms. Hirsi Ali had to go into hiding. For the

second time in her life she became a refugee, this

time in her adopted homeland.

 

Now she is being put on the run again, this time by

the Dutch who have grown tired of protecting such an

outspoken critic of Islamic extremism. Last month a

Dutch judge ordered her out of her apartment. Her

fellow tenants had argued that her presence endangered

them and lowered their property values, in violation

of their "human rights." The judge agreed and ordered

her evicted.

The final betrayal came last Monday when Immigration

Minister Rita Verdonk, from the supposedly liberal VVD

party, told Ms. Hirsi Ali that she was no longer a

Dutch citizen, or, to be more precise, never was one

because she gained her citizenship with an incorrect

name and date of birth. She had also already fled

Somalia for Kenya when she applied for asylum in

Holland. The funny thing is, Ms. Hirsi Ali admitted

this years ago without prompting as much as a yawn

from the authorities. But when a left-leaning state TV

channel "exposed" these same facts nine days ago, in a

report titled "The Holy Ayaan," Ms. Verdonk declared

Ms. Hirsi Ali--a fellow party member and

lawmaker--non-Dutch.

 

Bibi de Vries, another VVD parliamentarian, warned

that "if anything happens to Hirsi Ali, there will be

people within the VVD with blood on their hands." But

Ms. Hirsi Ali does not plan to stick around long

enough to prove Mr. de Vries correct. Last Tuesday,

she announced that she would be moving to America,

where the American Enterprise Institute has offered

her a position as a fellow.

 

Many of her countrymen would like nothing more than to

believe that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is leaving the

Netherlands because she was caught in a lie. But this

would be the biggest lie in this whole affair. The

Somali-born politician is leaving--no, fleeing--her

adopted homeland because the Netherlands and much of

Europe prefer a traditional Muslim woman who keeps her

mouth shut over one who objects to Islamic

intolerance. Ms. Hirsi Ali could take the threats

against her own life. But she could no longer take

being abandoned by the Dutch simply for fighting for

the values they taught her but now lack the courage to

defend.

 

Luckily for Ms. Hirsi Ali, she has found a country

that doesn't fear her willingness to criticize the

religion into which she was born. While visiting the

Netherlands last Thursday, Deputy Secretary of State

Robert Zoellick said the former Dutch legislator could

come to the U.S. regardless of her status in the

Netherlands. "We recognize that she is a very

courageous and impressive woman, and she is welcome in

the U.S."

How can it be that this recognition, so self-evident

to an American official just passing through, has

escaped most of the Dutch? Nearly half of her

countrymen want her stripped of her citizenship. They

have succumbed to the dangerous illusion that if only

she were to go away, all the problems of radical Islam

would go away with her. Ms. Hirsi Ali offered a final

warning on that score this week. "I am . . . preparing

to leave Holland," Ms. Hirsi Ali told reporters. "But

the questions for our society remain. The future of

Islam in our country, the subjugation of women in

Islamic culture; the integration of the many Muslims

in the West: It is self-deceit to imagine that these

issues will disappear."

 

There are striking parallels between the way many in

Europe view the U.S. and the way the Dutch and many

Europeans view Ms. Hirsi Ali. Outrage over September

11 soon gave way to a reversal of cause and effect.

The victim, the U.S., was held responsible for the

destruction it supposedly brought upon itself through

its policies and provocation of Muslims. Similarly,

solidarity with Ms. Hirsi Ali quickly changed to

attacking Ms. Hirsi Ali for being too provocative.

Government adviser Jan Schoonenboom accused Ms. Hirsi

Ali of "Islam bashing," a theme often repeated in the

media.

 

Ms. Hirsi Ali might be the first, but won't be the

last, post-9/11 dissident to seek refuge in the land

of the brave and the free. And so, any recovery of

property prices in Ms. Hirsi Ali's neighborhood will

be short-lived. Where the defenders of democracy have

to flee while the enemies of free society roam the

streets, not only real estate is bound to become very

cheap. So will be life, liberty and the pursuit of

happiness.

 

Mr. Schwammenthal is an editorial writer for The Wall

Street Journal Europe.

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