I need to be more precise than I was last night about the security situation relating to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Contrary to the impression I got from reading Anne Applebaum’s piece, it seems the Dutch government does not propose stripping Hirsi Ali of her security protection unconditionally. Rather, it contemplates not protecting her unless she is in Holland, where the threat to her is greatest.
Here via David Frum and the Los Angeles Times, is some of what Salman Rushdie has to say about the situation:
Hirsi Ali may be the first refugee from Western Europe since the Holocaust. As such, she is a unique and indispensable witness to both the strength and weakness of the West: to the splendor of open society and to the boundless energy of its antagonists. She knows the challenges we face in our struggle to contain the misogyny and religious fanaticism of the Muslim world, and she lives with the consequences of our failure each day. There is no one in a better position to remind us that tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.
Having recapitulated the Enlightenment for herself in a few short years, Hirsi Ali has surveyed every inch of the path leading out of the moral and intellectual wasteland that is traditional Islam. She has written two luminous books describing her journey, the most recent of which, “Infidel,” has been an international bestseller for months. It is difficult to exaggerate her courage. As Christopher Caldwell wrote in the New York Times, “Voltaire did not risk, with his every utterance, making a billion enemies who recognized his face and could, via the Internet, share information instantaneously with people who aspired to assassinate him.”
The Dutch Parliament will be debating Hirsi Ali’s case this week. As it stands, the government’s decision to protect her only within the borders of the Netherlands is genuinely perverse. While the Dutch have complained about the cost of protecting Hirsi Ali in the United States, it is actually far more expensive for them to protect her in the Netherlands, as the risk to her is greatest there.
There is also the matter of broken promises: Hirsi Ali was persuaded to run for parliament and to become the world’s most visible and imperiled spokeswoman for the rights of Muslim women, on the understanding that she would be provided security for as long as she needed it. Zalm, in his capacity as both the deputy prime minister and the minister of finance, promised her such security without qualification. Most shamefully, Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, has recommended that Hirsi Ali simply quit the Netherlands and has refused to grant her even a week’s protection outside the country, during which she might raise funds to hire security of her own. Is this a craven attempt to placate local Muslim fanatics? A warning to other Dutch dissidents not to stir up trouble by speaking too frankly about Islam? Or just pure thoughtlessness?
The Dutch government should recognize a scandal in the making and rediscover its obligation to provide Hirsi Ali with the protection she was promised.
There is not a person alive more deserving of the freedoms of speech and conscience we take for granted in the West, nor is there anyone making a more courageous effort to defend them.
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