February 13th, 2005


Dutch politics for outsiders (4)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the latest politician to cause a huge stir in the Dutch political world, even causing foreign media to follow what is happening. Who is she and why does she get so much attention?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (AHA in short) was born in Somalia, but fled the country with her father. Her dad lives in London these days, not too happy with the way his daughter is developing herself lately. AHA integrated really well in the Netherlands. She learned the language, studied and became a strong, feminist, independent woman. She started working for the main left wing political party (PvdA) and was a member of the board of Amnesty International in the Netherlands. She became known for criticizing her own religion, the Islam.

The something happened in her life. I’m not sure why, but she switched parties and became a Member of Parliament for the main right wing party (VVD), in the meantime searching publicity wherever possible. First controversial statement was when she compared Mohammed; fairly important to most Muslims I’d say, with a child abuser. This was not enough for her, in interviews on television and in other media she told the world that the Islam was an old fashioned religion. And worse, as this statement was the nicest thing she said.

To top this all, she wrote the script for a movie called “Submission part 1”. In this movie she aimed at the oppression of women in Islamic countries. Perhaps at itself not a bad idea, the way she chose to do so wasn’t very clever. The short movie, directed by controversial movie maker Theo van Gogh, also known for his controversial columns in which he offends many, including Muslims, calling them goatfuckers, shows a near naked woman who has quotes from the Koran written on her naked body. This body is only covered with a see through veil; hence the viewer sees her breasts as much as the Koran quotes. Not exactly the way to call for reform in the conservative religion.

A few months later Van Gogh (indeed a great-nephew from the famous painter) was murdered in the streets of Amsterdam. The murderer not only killed him, but also put a knife with a note for Ayaan Hirsi Ali in his corpse after the act. AHA went out of the public eye for a while. She needed several body guards and couldn’t do her work anymore. A couple of weeks ago she went back to Den Haag to do her work as a MP again. On the first press conference she told the world that she did feel some guilt, as her friend was killed, but in the meantime she was writing a script for part 2.

To me she seems to be on some sort of holy crusade, history will have to decide if she’s a loony, an attention seeker or the reformist leader she claims to be.