Dutch May Revoke Lawmaker’s Citizenship

The Dutch immigration minister said Monday that Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born woman who became one of the most prominent members of Dutch parliament, was improperly granted citizenship in 1997 and it may be revoked. Hirsi Ali, an opponent of fundamentalist Islam and an advocate for immigrant women’s rights, returned abruptly from a book tour in the United States last week after a political firestorm over her past erupted in the Netherlands. Critics called for her to resign after a television program aired Thursday detailing how she lied on her asylum application when she fled to the Netherlands in 1992 to escape an arranged marriage. Hirsi Ali had admitted the fabrications publicly when she was vetted as a candidate for parliament in 2002, and the country’s immigration minister said Friday she did not face any sanctions over the matter. But on Monday, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk sent a letter to parliament saying that, after reviewing the facts “it must be assumed she (Hirsi Ali) will be considered to never have received Dutch citizenship.” She said Hirsi Ali will have six weeks to formally respond. Hirsi Ali’s spokeswoman Ingrid Pouw said the lawmaker would hold a news conference Tuesday to discuss her position. Earlier Monday, Dutch media reported that Hirsi Ali would announce her retirement from politics this week and would join the American Enterprise Institute starting in September to work on a new book. Pouw could not confirm that. Hirsi Ali’s political downfall would be remarkable, given the prominent role she has played in the Netherlands’ national debate on Islam in the past several years. She became internationally known when filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in November 2004. Hirsi Ali wrote the screenplay for his movie “Submission,” which criticized the treatment of women under Islam and offended many Muslims. She received numerous death threats and has been under continuous police protection since the Van Gogh murder. The Dutch state is currently scrambling to arrange new housing for her after her neighbors in The Hague complained successfully that security arrangements for her had become an unfair nuisance for them. On the TV documentary program Zembla, she repeated that when she arrived in 1992 she changed her name and birth date on her asylum application and did not reveal that she had lived in three different countries after leaving Somalia. Several of her critics called for her to be deported. On Saturday, she told the AP she was the victim of a “smear campaign.”