Dutch Cowardice on Protecting Free Speech: The Case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum has a terrifically fierce op/ed ripping the spinelessness of the Dutch government in the face of Islamist threats against Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A former Dutch parliamentarian, Ali was put under police protection in 2002 when she was threatened by Islamists for her criticisms of how women were treated in the immigrant Muslim community. In 2004, Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film maker with whom Ali worked on a movie portraying the oppression of Muslim women, was murdered by an Islamist fanatic. The murderer thrust a knife bearing a note threatening Ali into van Gogh's chest.

Now the Dutch government wants to end Ali's police protection. Why? Applebaum writes:

The reasons given were financial, but there was clearly more to it. To put it bluntly, many in Holland find her too loud, too public in her condemnation of radical Islam. She doesn't sound conciliatory, in the modern continental fashion. Compare her description of Islam as "brutal, bigoted, fixated on controlling women" with the German judge who, citing the Koran, in January told a Muslim woman trying to obtain a divorce from her violent husband that she should have "expected" her husband to deploy the corporal punishment his religion approves. Hirsi Ali herself says she is often told, in so many words, that she's "brought her problems on herself." Now the Dutch prime minister openly says he wants her to deal with them alone.

Even more shocking to me was the fact that some of her Dutch neighbors…

…went to court … to have her evicted from her home (they claimed the security threat posed by her presence impinged upon their human rights).

I would be proud to have her as a neighbor. She can move in next door to me any time.

Applebaum concludes:

Whether or not the Dutch like it—and I'm sure most of them don't—revoking her police protection will send a clear message to the world: that the Dutch are no longer willing to protect their own traditions of free speech.

Whole column here.

Heads up: If you had subscribed to Reason you could already have read an excellent interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the current issue.