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Column Beurskens: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

(Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a member of the Dutch Parliament until last week, may 2006. She resigned because she apparently gave a false name and year of birth, when she applied for Dutch citizenship as a fugitive from Somalia. This recently came out in the TV-program – Zembla – and the Minister of Immigration announced that Ayaan probably wasn’t Dutch after all, because the law says that for any asylum seeker who gives false personal details at application Dutch citizenship automatically never comes into being. The Minister was criticized severely for this ‘legal assassination’ and afterwards it was promised that Ayaan will keep her Dutch passport whatever comes out of the pending legal investigation. Ayaan became well-known for her outspoken attitude against fundamentalist Islam, especially against the treatment of women in Islam. She cooperated with the movie ‘submission’, because of which the director, Theo van Gogh, was murdered by Mohammed B., who was subsequently jailed for life.)

Until a short while ago I have given the behaviour of Ayaan, especially after the movie ‘submission’, the title of: the entire citadel of mediocrity lies at the feet of this witch. Now Ayaan seems to be a victim and it might not be the right moment to publicly unravel this kind of statement. But I am going to give it a try anyway. Is it just abuse or is there something in it?

The citadel of mediocrity applies to Dutch politics and to Dutch media, not to the people. The foreign press wouldn’t have much difficulty with this qualification, be it for different reasons as I have. It was distinctly amazed that the Dutch would treat an apparently extremely useful publicity canon in this way.

Ayaan has been sanctified as a martyr for the good cause. That many Muslim women are very critical of Ayaan and seem to be able to do very well without her, doesn’t bother public life here in the least. Public statements about the really horrendous movie ‘submission’ are taboo. The internal censor has prescribed meticulously what is to be said about it. In the meantime politics and media almost daily tell us how open and free our country is and how enlightened we are.

At one side the arguments need to be dried up and rationalized to death, at the other side anything is allowed, much like the Danish cartoonists had figured out for themselves. I will continue to ask critical questions Ayaan says now herself as if their kind of behavior and hers is adequately described in this manner. Apparently she succeeded in rallying around her cause some creative people with guts, like Theo van Gogh. Western intellect of his type doesn’t have the faintest inkling of religion and that is why they were too naive to comprehend what they were doing, while at the same time Ayaan knew exactly what she did and what the risks were. That is why she shares responsibility for what happened. For the record: Mohammed B. has not a good view of large parts of the Quran. His concept of Jihad is wrong. He not only belongs in the Bijlmerbajes, the Dutch variant of San Quentin, but he has also a serious problem with his own religious tradition.

What is at stake here is not a rational and honest debate, no intellectual competition, as Ayaan’s new boss would have it. It is about manipulation and subtlety and a handsome dose of malice and calculation. And about stunning shrewdness. In this way also her attitude in politics must be viewed, including the recent highly profiled nightly debate about herself in parliament. Politicians danse around her like cats in love and shed crocodile tears because of her demise, while at the same time almost all of them voted for an immigration law which can be extremely cruel for individuals. Immigration law is above family law as a Dutch official made clear to me with enough priggishness to make one believe this is in the Bible. It was about a case of a mother, who lived illegally in our country for ten years already. She has a husband here and a child of eight -born here- both with Dutch nationality. Her illegality rested on the fact that her husband couldn’t sustain a regular income. She was found out in city hall while she was there on a trivial occasion. She was arrested on the spot and expelled from the country within a day without a chance to say good-bye to her husband and her boy and with no possibility of appeal.

As is evident from the broadcast of – Zembla – Ayaan made up many of her stories, like the one about her forced marriage. We should have gotten rid of her a long time ago by means of an honest, be it hard, debate. The citadel of mediocrity cannot handle this because of a lack of courage and because of a misguided idea about a decent debate with Islam. That our Minister of Immigration, Rita Verdonk, had to come in with her blessing in disguise, that is why we are mediocre. So as it is Rita has now catapulted Ayaan across the Atlantic. Let’s be a little bit ashamed of ourselves, but let’s at the same time gladly accept this as second best. Ayaan went to an American think tank. Those are ideology factories at which not only thinking is on order but also its content. So in them assuredly there will be a job for her.