Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (or Magan)

Once “Dutch-person of the Year” Ayaan Hirsi Ali has come under attack in recent days for lying about the circumstances of her asylum request. The truth was exposed in the programme Zembla, in which members of her family revealed that at the time the famous parliamentarian applied for asylum in the Netherlands she had already been granted refugee status in Kenya. She also apparently lied about her name, age and reason for applying for asylum, which she insisted was to escape from a forced marriage.

The Ayaan Hirschi Ali achieved international fame due to her critical views of Islam. She once called the Prophet Mohammed “a perverse man” because he married Aisha, who was only nine at the time. She also considers Mohammed “despicable” because he said that, among other things, a woman must stay at home, wear a headscarf, does not have the same inheritance rights as men. She wants to “show that there is also another reality than the “truth”, which with the help of Saudi money, is being spread around the world”.

In 2004 she co-produced the docu-film Submission together with renowned film-maker Theo van Gogh. In the film a Muslim woman, in a see-through dress and with texts from the Quaran written all over her body, laments her tormented fate of abuse by her uncle. The indirect criticisms against Islam’s view on the position of woman angered many Muslims. The director was later gruesomely murdered by an Islamic extremist, and she herself has received many death threats. That however has not stopped her self-professed mission to bring enlighten Islam.

Her no-nonsense and confrontational approach to politics has won her a reputation more as an activist than politician. An activist with a strong passion championing for the position of what she views as oppressed womanhood in Islam in general. In particular she made headlines by raising the issue of female circumcision, violence against women, ban on Islamic schools, and the problems of integration here in the Netherlands. The desire to change, or to enlighten Islam and Muslim, comes from her personal background, having grown up in an orthodox Somalian society, and narrowly escaped an arranged marriage.

Some, like a naturalisation law professor has argued the politician should have her Dutch citizenship revoked for lying to gain legitimate residency status in the Netherlands should. This was based on a case of an Iraqi family in the Supreme Court in 2005, in which it was decided that falsifying names and birth details would deem the naturalisation decision invalid. To ensure equality of justice and consistency in similar cases in the future the parliamentarian now runs the risk of being kicked out of the country. The current minister of Foreigner Affairs and Integration thinks the case is irrelevant.

Why all this commotion, when in fact the politician herself has publicly made known that she lied about her name and status on several occasions? This weblog seems to suggests:

”Character assassination is what the makers of Zembla sought after. They manipulated their material, they had lied to people, and they have instigated the audience to hate one of the bravest people in the Netherlands.”

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