The Toronto Star's Haroon Siddiqui sheds no tears for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch legislator recently caught out for lying on her refugee application and who will lose her Dutch citizenship as a result.
She has been exposed as the equivalent of such Iraqi exiles as Ahmad Chalabi and Iyad Allawi. They told the tall tales the Bush administration wanted to hear to wage war. She told the stories the Dutch, and many Europeans, craved, to confirm their anti-Muslim prejudices.
Like the Iraqi exiles, she knew exactly which buttons to push.
She was an abused wife who had fled a forced marriage and also her vengeful family and clan. An “ex-Muslim,” she was out to liberate Muslim women and tame Islam to her liking and those of her benefactors.
She wrote and narrated the Theo Van Gogh documentary Submission about the subjugation of Muslim women that led to his murder and to death threats against her, placing her under 24-hour guard.
Along the way she let it be known she had lied about her name, age and how she had entered Holland in 1992, not directly from her homeland of Somalia but via Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Germany, a fact that would have undermined her claim, rather than expedited it.
The Dutch didn't mind. Many refugee claimants embellish their stories. Besides, she was a heroine they had embraced, a “moderate” Muslim waging war against “fanatical” believers.
To her detractors, hers was a case, at best, of bitter personal experience passed off as the norm for all Muslims, and, at worst, relentless self-promotion that had won her fame and invitations from such places as Toronto during the so-called sharia debate and to the U.S. to bask in the company of Dick Cheney and Bernard Lewis.
Her well-ordered world came crashing down recently when a TV documentary suggested her entire claim to stardom was a fraud; not only had there been no forced marriage and no family vendetta but that she enjoyed good relations with her family and husband, both before and after settling in Holland.
Another heavyweight columnist, The Globe and Mail's Margaret Wente, had quite the opposite take on Thursday. She didn't refer to just a TV documentary, but a leftist TV documentary (boo! hiss!).
Here are some excerpts clipped from a blog (the full column is behind a firewall):
Ms. Hirsi Ali is a fearless champion of the rights of women. Western nations such as the Netherlands, she argues, cannot look away when immigrant women are abused by their own families. Yet, in the name of multiculturalism and tolerance, that's exactly what they've done. Ms. Hirsi Ali, who is Somali-born, speaks with compelling clarity about the dangers of Islamic extremism to the West. Her greatest worry, she says, is what she calls 'the liberal betrayal' — the failure of the West to defend its own liberal democratic values against those who would destroy them. She is enormously unpopular not only among Muslims, but also among the European left, who accuse her of inflaming racism. …
But even if the Dutch change their minds, Ms. Hirsi Ali is gone for good. She simply can't live freely there any more. Across Europe, dozens of politicians, journalists and academics are under police protection because of Islamist threats. The infamous Danish cartoonists are lying low, and Flemming Rose, the editor who decided to publish them, is thinking of moving to the United States, too. Like Ms. Hirsi Ali, he says it's not the extremists who are driving him out. It's Europeans and their governments who are so willing to appease them.
Er, isn't it the Dutch government that recently developed a citizenship kit that includes a DVD with vid of two guys kissing, and that advises if you're uncomfortable with that, please don't emigrate to the Netherlands because we're a liberal society?
Wente yaps about appeasement, but seemingly ignores reporting in her own newspaper that suggests most European Muslims are moderate and would like to integrate — if given the opportunity. I'm not sure why she does that.
For more information on Muslims in Europe, check out this BBC page.