Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch lawmaker whose criticism of Islam has kept her on the run since 2004, was in front of the European Parliament on Thursday pleading for a measure to help her fund a personal security detail.
"The threats to my life have not subsided and the cost is beyond anything I can pay," Hirsi Ali said to a group of European Union lawmakers on Thursday. "I find myself in a very desperate position. I don't want to die. I want to live and I love life. I'm going to do anything legal to get help."
Hirsi Ali went before a gathering of 100 EU lawmakers who signed a declaration requesting EU member nations to assume the costs of Hirsi Ali's security. Support by more than half of the 785 members of the European Parliament is needed by mid-March for the EU to formally take up the request.
Benoit Hamon, a French Socialist lawmaker, co-drafted the proposal. "It's difficult to find a young lady more grounded in European values than this young lady," Hamon said.
In addition to Thursday's action, Hirsi Ali recently requested French citizenship after receiving sympathetic support from French intellectuals and politicians, among them French star-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, who has vied for honorary citizenship for Hirsi Ali. French Human Rights Minister Rama Yada, also among the advocates, told France-2 news, "We believe in France that Ayaan Hirsi Ali must be protected." She is awaiting a response.
The Dutch government had been paying for Hirsi Ali's personal security since 2004, when she received death threats for her screenwriting of Theo van Gogh's film "Submission," about the treatment of women in Islam. Van Gogh was subsequently and gruesomely gunned down on the streets of Amsterdam by Mohammed Bouyeri, an Islamic jihadist. Plunged into Van Gogh's torso were two knives, one with a note promising Hirsi Ali would be next.
But Dutch protection of the Somali-born politician and essayist ended in October 2007, when it became impossible for the government to guarantee her personal safety and pay for a pricey security detail in the US. She had been living there since 2006, where she was a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC. The US government, however, refused to offer her protection because of her foreign-national status.
Hirsi Ali returned to the Netherlands in early October 2007 and has since been forced to try to raise security funds independently.
The Netherlands has estimated the cost of protecting her at 2 million euros ($2.9 million) annually, reports the Associated Press. And while the Dutch government has said security costs in the US were too costly, they are, Hirsi Ali said, "just a fraction" of the price in the Netherlands.