Yesterday, the French press agency AFP ran a report about Ayaan Hirsi Ali under the above title. Ms. Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born former member of the Dutch Parliament, was in the European Parliament in Brussels trying to raise funds to protect her from Islamist death threats. “I don’t want to die, I want to live and I love life. I find myself in a very desperate position,” she said at a press conference in the parliament building.
The press conference was organized by a French Socialist MEP (Member of the European Parliament). The Socialists are, however, deeply divided about Ms. Hirsi Ali’s initiative. There were only 6 Socialist MEPs at the press conference: three Frenchmen, two Walloons and one Portuguese. The 6 Socialists were joined by 3 other MEPs: Paul van Buitenen, a former whistleblowing European Union civil servant who is currently an independent Dutch MEP aligned to the Greens, and two MEPs from the Flemish-secessionist Vlaams Belang.
Ms. Hirsi Ali proposes the establishment of a European fund to protect people threatened by assassins. The journalists tried to corner her into distancing herself from Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch Parliament, who is also under an Islamist death sentence. The press wanted to know whether the fund should also be used to protect members of the “far-right.” She answered that the only criterion should be whether people’s lives are effectively threatened.
Like Geert Wilders at the moment, Ms. Hirsi Ali has in the past been living under tight protection from the Dutch police. The Dutch authorities, however, stopped paying for her protection one year after she left the Netherlands for the United States. She resigned her seat in the Dutch Parliament and moved to America in May 2006 to work for the American Enterprise Institute in Washington after the Dutch authorities discovered that she had lied about her age and name in her Dutch asylum request. Ms. Hirsi Ali, whose real name is Hirsi Magan, had entered the Netherlands in 1992 from Germany, falsely claiming to be an asylum seeker arriving from Somalia.
As the United States government does not pay for the protection of individuals either, she was forced to move back to the Netherlands in October 2007 where she lives at a secret place under police protection. The Dutch authorities, however, do not pay her protection when she is out of the country. Wouter Bos, the leader of the Dutch Labour Party and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands, says that there are no cases where a state continues to provide protection for a national who left the country without prior agreement.
“Since October I have been fund-raising full-time [for my protection],” Ms. Hirsi Ali said in Brussels. “It has become swiftly apparent that the best I can do is raise enough money to pay for the security detail that accompanies me to fund-raising meetings. When the money runs out I am confined in hiding.”
The French Socialist MEP Benoît Hamon has launched a petition to secure support for EU funding to protect people who are under threat for their opinions. It could be financed to the tune of 50 million euros by a fund that the parliament has at its disposal each year. The petition is, however, unlikely to receive the required backing from half of the European Parliament’s 785 members. AFP reports that only 82 MEPs have signed so far.
The petition is to be signed during the EP’s plenary session next week in Strassburg. Philip Claeys, a Vlaams Belang MEP, has announced that the three MEPs from his party will also sign. In February 2006, Ms. Hirsi Ali told a Flemish newspaper that she would “ban the VB because it hardly differs from the Hofstad group [an Islamist terror network in the Netherlands]. Though the VB members have not committed any violent crimes yet, they are just postponing them and waiting until they have an absolute majority. On many issues they have exactly the same opinions as the Muslim extremists: on the position of women, on the suppression of gays, on abortion. This way of thinking will lead straight to genocide.”
Mr. Claeys says Ms. Hirsi Ali, who at the time was a member of the Dutch Liberal Party, had been misinformed about his party by the Flemish Liberal Party of Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. Neither the Belgian nor the Dutch Liberal MEPs are willing to sign the petition in favour of Ms. Hirsi Ali’s protection.
Most parties, including the majority of the 215 Socialist MEPs, oppose the establishment of a European fund to protect people under death threats from extremists. So far only three (Mr. van Buitenen and two Green politicians) of the 27 Dutch MEPs have signed the petition. “This initiative is going nowhere,” Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, a Dutch Liberal MEP, told Radio Netherlands. “It’s tragic for Ayaan because she needs security but the EU is not the place to provide it. She is being made to believe in something that does not exist.”
Yesterday’s press conference must have been a humiliating experience for Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The European politicians do not seem to realize that it is a humiliating experience for Europe as well. It proves that Islamist terrorists, who threaten to kill citizens who speak out against them, have won. There is no freedom of speech in Europe, where the state authorities are unable and unwilling to protect their citizens, although the latter have to pay taxes. Would it not be appropriate then to give these citizens the right to bear arms and protect themselves? Or is this an obnoxious, undemocratic question?