Writer and former Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali returned to the Netherlands on Monday after living in the United States and working for a prominent conservative think tank. The move came after the Dutch government said it would no longer pay for her security needs in Washington.
The Dutch government has provided Hirsi Ali with police protection since the 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a radical Islamist. Hirsi Ali became internationally prominent because of her uncompromising criticism of Islam in the wake of the slaying -- a position which has made her the subject of repeated death threats. In 2006, she left the Netherlands at the center of a scandal that would eventually cost the country's then-integration minister, Rita Verdonk, her job.
According to the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, Hirsi Ali returned Monday to her adopted country, the Netherlands, where she is entitled to state-funded protection.
Sybrand van Haersmma Buma, the ruling Christian Democrat Party's security-issues spokesman, defended the government's decision, saying that the state-funded protection in the US was only meant to last through Hirsi Ali's first year abroad and that it had only been granted due to "extraordinary circumstances," the Associated Press reported him as saying.
"It was a temporary measure," van Haersmma Buma told Dutch NOS television Monday. "The responsibility for her security should be taken on by the US government," van Haersmma Buma added, arguing that handling Hirsi Ali's security arrangements in a foreign country was taxing.
Hirsi Ali first entered the international public spotlight in 2004 when she collaborated with Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh on Submission, a short film highly critical of Islam's treatment of women. The film led to van Gogh's murder by a radical Muslim angered by the film's depiction of Islam. A note the murderer, now serving a life sentence in prison, left attached to van Gogh's body with a knife threatened Hirsi Ali's life. She was forced to go into hiding temporarilyand only emerged later under police protection.
From 2003 to 2006, Hirsi Ali served in the lower house of the Dutch parliament. In 2006, she resigned from her position after hardline Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk tried to revoke her Dutch passport because Hirsi Ali had provided false information when she applied for asylum in 1992. The resulting controversy led to widespread public outcry in the Netherlands and abroad, and Verdonk was forced to back down.
Since then, Hirsi Ali has been a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Washington, DC. Her autobiography, entitled "Infidel," was released in the US earlier this year and became a best-seller. Her security in the US was increased in March after she received more death threats there.
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