Saturday, May 13, 2006

Critics Want Dutch Lawmaker Deported

ABC News - Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch legislator who has championed the rights of Muslim women, is returning from a book tour to a firestorm for lying on her asylum application when she fled to the Netherlands in 1992 to escape an arranged marriage.

Hirsi Ali, 36, said Saturday she was puzzled by the uproar since she publicly acknowledged the false refugee application when she stood for parliament in 2002.

"Have they all gone mad?" she said, accusing her rivals of a political vendetta.

"Yes, I did lie to get asylum in Holland. This is public knowledge since at least September 2002," she said in a telephone call from Hamburg, Germany.

Political opponents want her stripped of her Dutch citizenship and deported. Others say she should be expelled from parliament.

Hirsi Ali became a popular figure in the Netherlands for renouncing her Muslim faith, condemning the treatment of women in many Muslim households and criticizing Dutch immigration and integration policies.

She became internationally known when a film she wrote provoked the murder of its director, Theo van Gogh, by an Islamic radical in 2004. With her own life under threat, she went into hiding for three months, and still lives under 24-hour protection.

The latest political storm followed the airing of a 30-minute TV documentary Thursday tracing her steps from Somalia, where her father was an imprisoned opposition politician, to her family's exile in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Hirsi Ali repeated on the TV documentary that when she arrived in 1992 she changed her name from Hirsi Magan and her birth date on her asylum application and did not tell the authorities that she had lived in three different countries since leaving Somalia.

"I invented a story that would be consistent with the conditions for asylum," she told The Associated Press.