Exiling a heroine who challenged Islam.

The week's news at a glance.


Europe should be ashamed of itself, said Italy’s Corriere della Sera in an editorial. The Netherlands has used the pretext of a “legal quibble” to expel Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The Somali-born member of the Dutch parliament, an outspoken critic of militant Islam, was found to have broken the country’s immigration laws 14 years ago, when she applied for asylum under a false name. Surely such a technical violation is just an excuse to get rid of her. Hirsi Ali has courted controversy ever since she authored the film Submission, about the persecution of women in Islamic societies. The filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, was stabbed to death by an Islamist militant, while Hirsi Ali had to go into hiding. Apparently the Netherlands no longer wants to harbor someone so hated by the Islamists. “Kowtowing to terrorist blackmail,” the country is kicking her out—and only the U.S. has offered to take her in. “Europe, as usual, is not lifting a finger.”

We Dutch have really botched this one, said the Netherlands’ NRC Handelsblad in an editorial. Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk couldn’t wait 24 hours after questions were raised about the asylum application before “yanking away” Hirsi Ali’s passport. “Rarely has a bigger political, administrative, and legal mistake been made so rashly.” Verdonk “damaged the prestige of the Netherlands” by dealing so harshly with an internationally known figure. Hirsi Ali is not just a random asylum seeker, or even an average parliamentary back-bencher. She’s a Dutch hero who showed tremendous personal courage in speaking her mind while fanatics threatened her life. Verdonk claimed she was merely being evenhanded, treating Hirsi Ali like any other immigration violator. But such treatment is “unworthy of the Dutch kingdom.”

Verdonk showed just “how small-minded our small land can be,” said Annemarie Postma in the Netherlands’ Algemeen Dagblad. Even her boss, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, was surprised at the immigration minister’s decision. Could it have been motivated by politics? Everyone knows Rita wants to run for prime minister someday. Perhaps she felt Ayaan, a member of her own party, was “outshining her.” In the end, though, it may turn out for the best that Ayaan is going to the United States. For such a “brilliant and strong personality as Ayaan, the Netherlands is much too confining.”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Rene van Rijckevorsel


Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.