Dutch cabinet resigns over Hirsi Ali citizenship conflict
June 29, 2006 6:54 PM   Subscribe

An interesting chain of events culminated today in the resignation of the Dutch cabinet: Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali^ embarks on a career in the Netherlands' political fast lane, in her spare time writing the screenplay to the film^ that got Theo van Gogh^ killed1, 2, 3, 4, plans to leave parliament for a job in the US1, meanwhile sees the legality of her citizenship called into question by an overeager minister of Immigration^1, causing her to step down early. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (36 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This entire brouhaha can be confusing even to the well-informed Dutch observer; therefore, an ultrashort guide for the uninitiated. After a documentary aired in May in which Hirsi Ali stated that she had lied about her name and date of birth in her naturalisation application, Minister Rita Verdonk of Integration and Immigration took it upon herself to question the legality of Hirsi Ali having been granted her Dutch passport in 1997. Only days after the broadcast, she sent out a proclamation citing prior jurisprudence (in itself unusual in Holland, a jurisdiction mostly characterised by code law, not case law) and stating that the legal consequence of Hirsi Ali's (alleged) fraud is that "she should be considered never to have been awarded Dutch citizenship". (Note that not only had Hirsi Ali already planned to leave Parliament and move to the US: Verdonk and Hirsi Ali were even members of the same political party.)

It was especially Verdonk's speed of judgment in this matter that left the impression with many observers that perhaps she had acted injudiciously, not taking into account any special considerations which might have resulted in Hirsi Ali being allowed to keep her passport after all. Verdonk insisted she had made no judgment call whatsoever, but had merely enacted the appropriate laws. A motion was passed, strongly urging Verdonk to reconsider the matter.

On June 27, Verdonk stated that Hirsi Ali was to keep her passport. At the end of a nine-hour, mostly nocturnal session of parliament, a motion disapproving of Verdonk's policy failed to pass early Thursday morning (the session was closed at 5:30 AM local time). However, it was too late. Coalition partner D66 announced this afternoon that they would withdraw their support of the sitting cabinet, effectively causing a cabinet crisis. With Verdonk unwilling to budge, Prime Minister Balkenende saw no option but to offer his and his cabinet's resignation to the Queen, paving the way for early elections next autumn.

Here's an NPR piece on Hirsi Ali.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:55 PM on June 29, 2006

posted by cillit bang at 7:02 PM on June 29, 2006

posted by quonsar at 7:10 PM on June 29, 2006

She's hot.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:25 PM on June 29, 2006

I can't believe Verdonk did that--appalling (she'd fit right in here with some of our politicians, sadly)
posted by amberglow at 7:30 PM on June 29, 2006

Damn, no grounds for a "finger in the dike" joke anywhere.
posted by mischief at 7:30 PM on June 29, 2006

Its so weird when the Dutch government just dissolves, and the Queen? is in charge? Didn't this happen right after the massacre in Srebrenica?

posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:04 PM on June 29, 2006

this fpp is like reading a seizure.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 8:33 PM on June 29, 2006

They resigned? Ha! Finally that government did something useful! (Disclaimer: I'm expat Dutch, I voted in the elections, but not for any of the governing parties) I had a chance to meet Verdonk when she was in Canada a few weeks ago. By that I mean: I had a chance, and didn't take it. We were at the same event, but I didn't make an effort to talk to her, and she didn't come over to our table. She was in Canada to study the immigration system here, and think about how things can be changed in Holland. What a waste of time (I mean that she now won't use the info she got, not that she couldn't have learned anything.)
posted by easternblot at 8:54 PM on June 29, 2006

Everything I've read/seen/heard about Ali leads me to believe she's an amped up version of Ann Coulter. Letting an anti-muslim hate mongerer like her in the country won't help us in the hearts and minds battle.
posted by b_thinky at 9:21 PM on June 29, 2006

Thanks, footnotesfortheinsane.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:04 PM on June 29, 2006

This is good!
posted by shoepal at 12:17 AM on June 30, 2006

Why would Verdonk want to revoke Hirsi Ali’s citizenship?
posted by Termite at 12:44 AM on June 30, 2006

Its so weird when the Dutch government just dissolves, and the Queen? is in charge?

The Government of Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy and Queen Beatrix is head of state. Like the British Queen, the role is largely ceremonial, but her signature must be put to any Act of Parliament in order for it to become law. She has the power to dissolve parliament, but generally only does so upon request of the parliament.

Dutch politics, indeed Dutch society in general, is very much consensus based. This is not to say that nails that stick up get hammered down, but..... Hirsi Ali was no doubt a tall poppy.

That being said, on the world scale of freedom and tolerance, The Netherlands usually rates an 11. There is far more to be admired than ridiculed.
posted by three blind mice at 12:45 AM on June 30, 2006

This is indeed what happened after Srebrenica (and other occasions, it is not that uncommon). What is odd is that this revolved around the credibility of one minister (Verdonk), not the whole cabinet. It was the refusal of the other two coalition partners to sacrifice her (and her own unwillingness to step down) that brought down the entire cabinet.

Verdonk is not a politician, in fact she's terrible at it. She is not a dealmaker, lousy speaker, a very bad liar and her hidden agenda is in plain sight. So she has had a string of clumsy run-ins with parliament (always getting the benefit of doubt) and this Hirsi Ali thing was the so called last straw. What made it worse this time is she made Hirsi Ali sign a 'mea culpa' statement that was intended for Verdonk to save face, but was presented to parliament as a legal prerequisite (which was untrue). It was this abuse of power that got the ball rolling.
posted by beno at 12:47 AM on June 30, 2006

Why would Verdonk want to revoke Hirsi Ali’s citizenship?

Very simplified version:

Hirsi Ali: I am sick of this small country, I am moving to the US! Oh and by the way: I lied about my name when I entered this country.

Verdonk: In that case, your passport was obtained illegally, hand it over!

Dutch government: We've found a loophole, technically you didn't really lie, because you used your grandfather's name. So you can have your passport after all.

Rest of the country: wtf?!

(Add some attempts at political influence by nearly-dead political party and chaos ensues).
posted by swordfishtrombones at 12:53 AM on June 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

Why would Verdonk want to revoke Hirsi Ali’s citizenship?

Because she lied about her name/age/birthplace when she entered the country. The law says this means automatic nullification of your citizenship.

The discussion revolves around the amount of discretion a minister has in these cases (there is some) and how thourough the investigation has been in this case before revoking (almost none). Another important bit of information is that at the time of her initial decision Verdonk was in a head to head race for leadership of the VVD (right wing party) and she has the hardliner image. So there was always the suspicion of rushing to judgement to reinforce her tough image (she lost that race, by the way).
posted by beno at 12:55 AM on June 30, 2006

Dutch business' idea of 'concensus' seems to be based on whomever yells loudest (at least, that was the strong impression gleaned from interviewing with one Dutch corporate giant). Does the government form consensus that way?
posted by Goofyy at 1:04 AM on June 30, 2006

goofyy: the vvd (dutch conlibz, Verdonks party) do have that tendency.. 'im bigger and richer then you so DO AS I TELL YOU!!'
this time it was more like this:
'So our Rita has to go or you'll make this government fall? That's ok, we're big; well be in the next one anyway'
conlibs suck ass
posted by borq at 1:16 AM on June 30, 2006

Gnfti, get your junta together. You may never get a better opportunity to seize power. We will all vote for you regardless of the fact that few of us are Dutch citizens. It is a MeFi thing.
posted by Cranberry at 1:25 AM on June 30, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi Ali = longest web page evar, wow
posted by sidereal at 2:37 AM on June 30, 2006

So Hirsi Ali supports the rightwing anti-immigrant party, and then gets annoyed when they are hardline on immigrants like herself?

And what about the other several thousand refugees who are being deported, who don't have cushy jobs in the states to go to, where they can continue to rail against refugees, except when they need refuge, of course.

I can't find it now, but I recently read a column by an American woman who is herself being deported from the Netherlands. She has lived in the Netherlands for a decade, has worked there, paid taxes, is married to a European citizen with right of residency, and has two Dutch born children. However, she has just been told she has a matter of weeks or months to return to the US; Hirsi Ali's government has claimed that she failed to show a strong reason why she should be allowed to stay in the Netherlands.

My sympathy for Hirsi Ali could be played on the smallest violin in the world. Hypocrite.
posted by jb at 3:29 AM on June 30, 2006

jb, got any sort of link to that that US woman story? I mean wtf? It used to be a media darling to run stories about the other way around all the time - that is European woman with X kids and X years of marriage to US citizen gets deported.

swordfishtrombones , thanks for the ace recap. ;)
posted by dabitch at 4:47 AM on June 30, 2006

Hirsi Ali is a femanist worth taking seriously. Too bad if she's getting involved with stupid U.S. conservatives.

Verdonk's ideas on immigration seem to be a mix of sane (integration tests), dumb grandstanding (singing?!?), and just stupid (releasing informationm about asylum seakers?!?).

But what I fail to understand is: Why do small quiet European nations allow *any* immigration from problematic societies? Just take your immigrants from Asia (east) and South America instead. If you get a legit asylum seeker who you don't want to admit, just send them to the U.S. or Canada. We could handle *all* their asylum cases without even noticing.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:01 AM on June 30, 2006

jeff, i think many of Holland's immigrants were from former colonies and places like that--and we've restricted our quotas so much that it's virtually impossible for people to get in nowadays legally--Ali is probably getting in on an artist's visa and not the regular thing.
posted by amberglow at 7:33 AM on June 30, 2006

jb, when you're born in an impoverished country and escape under fear for your life, then you can show me your stupid little violin.

That said, as an expat American living in the Netherlands, this whole thing is quite amusing. It's pretty amusing to the Dutch, too, although they are of course more wary of seeming stupid to the entire world. Being an American in Europe, I understand that feeling pretty well.

Ali is a contradictory figure here. Many of the things she says are fundmentally right, and in many ways she has been treated badly. But she never fails to use any opportunity to promote, well, basically herself. It's slightly annoying to me, but hey, I've seen Star Jones. To most Dutch it's almost unbearable.
posted by MikeB at 11:45 AM on June 30, 2006

That being said, on the world scale of freedom and tolerance, The Netherlands usually rates an 11. There is far more to be admired than ridiculed.

I agree wholeheartedly.

Nevertheless, I find this whole situation a bit funny:
Government: You're a filthy illegal immigrant. Begone!

Widely respected and attractive illegal immigrant MP: Ok. Ciao.

Government: Hey, what are you doing? Come back! Aaargh, I'm melting! I'M MELTING!

There is a darker side to this that has, as far as I can see, not been touched upon in this thread: After van Gogh's assasination Ali has been under police protection. When she's no longer an MP or a Dutch citizen, there is no more police protection. Therefore there is a very real risk to her life because of this.
posted by spazzm at 3:27 PM on June 30, 2006

disinfo by gnfti

Rita Verdonk is central here, she is knettergek.
posted by Substrata at 5:59 PM on June 30, 2006

knettergek=crazy : >

spazzm, i hope she's ok--does anyone know when she's due to come here?
posted by amberglow at 7:29 PM on June 30, 2006

amberglow: I met a girl the other day who works for a think-tank in Washington. From what I understand, the girl's organization is trying to sponsor Ali to come to the US. But, I believe her citizenship status problems in Holland are causing problems in obtaining a visa here in the US. However, there is nearly no doubt that she will eventually get here - how could you turn her away??!?
posted by pwedza at 7:46 PM on June 30, 2006

Disinfo? Oi! :) Well I see your point, but there's only so many characters you can cram into a post (and I pushed it a bit already anyway, IMO).
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:04 AM on July 1, 2006

wow spazzm - I hadn't thought of that. Not good.
posted by dabitch at 7:36 AM on July 1, 2006

jb, got any sort of link to that that US woman story? I mean wtf? It used to be a media darling to run stories about the other way around all the time - that is European woman with X kids and X years of marriage to US citizen gets deported.

No, I don't have a link. I read it online a little while ago, after it had been linked here or somewhere else (monkeyfilter, maybe), and I spent about 20 minutes trying to google it. But I don't know the American woman's name, and there are a lot of links about Hirsi Ali lately.

As for the other commentator ("jb, when you're born in an impoverished country and escape under fear for your life, then you can show me your stupid little violin") you should direct your ire at Ali. I support very generous policies towards refugees, her party does not. As far as her party is concerned, all of those refugees (except Ali, of course) should return to their impoverished countries which they excaped under fear for their lives.
posted by jb at 10:42 AM on July 1, 2006

Ali's like a Log Cabin Republican?
posted by amberglow at 10:55 AM on July 1, 2006

Note that although the cabinet did resign in its entirety, it will be taking its seat again and biding its time until the early elections in November with more-or-less the same team: that is, without the two ministers from the D66 whistleblower side, but with the person that started it all, minister Rita Verdonk.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:29 PM on July 13, 2006

« Older From doorbells to fish-pills   |   When in Texas... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments