May 16, 2006

Dutch Parliamentarian Ousted from the Country

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Hirsi AliHere is a headline in the Dutch papers that I would like to pick up and share with Europeans as I believe it has a wider significance for immigration politics.

For as far as I am aware, the Netherlands are about to set yet another immigration harshness precedent: a parliamentarian of foreign background (originally from Somalia) is now to be removed from office and from Dutch soil before August, as she originally lied about her real name in a bid to gain Dutch citizenship.

For the last three years, Ayaan Hirsi Ali had sat in the Second Chamber (equivalent to the British lower house), where she represented the Liberal Party (VVD) and had been continually outspoken against certain strands of Islamic thought which she considered “incompatible with the legal state”.

From the outset, she had made it clear that she had lied about her name when she first came to the Netherlands, for tactical purposes. Only now, when this information somehow reached the wider media (not that it had been kept a secret either), Mrs. Verdonk, Minister of Immigration, had Ms. Hirsi Ali’s record tracked. Within 24 hours, the verdict was unequivocal: she had never legally obtained citizenship. What will be next in this sequence of events that increasingly make me ashamed to have such people at the head of our government? Our reputation of tolerant liberals is steadily declining, all because of a number of arbitrary measures. Look out in next week’s Economist for this story. See also her statement in English.

- 3 comments by 1 or more people

  1. Ah! You beat me to it! The BBC have picked up the story as well. It's not just Verdonk though, apparently many believe that liars shouldn't be allowed to enter the country, no matter why they're not willing to tell the truth.

    16 May 2006, 19:07

  2. That's right, many people support Verdonk, and she was in fact voted to be last year's best politician.

    I'm not sure about the legal implications of Hirsi Ali's lie, although I'm convinced that there should be a reasonable margin of legal descretion to keep her in the country.

    The problem, I think, is that the rules are simply unfairly harsh. Many people lie at immigration interviews for a multitude of reasons, cultural, political or tactical.

    16 May 2006, 20:51

  3. Curiously enough, nothing about it in today's Guardian.

    17 May 2006, 14:18

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