The government of the Netherlands has fallen as a direct result of their handling of former MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Dutch PM Jan Peter Balkenende resigned over the controversy started by Rita Verdonk:
The Dutch government has decided to resign after losing the support of its junior coalition partner in a row over Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said.
The resignation follows a conflict within the coalition government about the way VVD minister Verdonk handled the controversy surrounding the citizenship of Somali-born Islam critic and former lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Just minutes before Balkenende announced in parliament that the entire government would step down, the three ministers of junior coalition party D66 said they could no longer be part of a cabinet with the controversial Verdonk.
This ends the fallout of Verdonk’s decision to strip Ayaan of her Dutch citizenship after the outspoken critic of radical Islam acknowledged that she had changed her name when applying for asylum. Ayaan had gained sympathy and support from her participation in the film by Theo Van Gogh that highlighted the harsh treatment of women in traditional Islam, a film that led to the assassination of Van Gogh by Muslim extremists.
Michael van der Galien, who has followed this story from The Netherlands, writes:
One of the key issues of the debate last night was the declaration signed by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Prime-Minister Balkenende explained that this declaration was necessary for legal purposes: in it she ‘promissed’ that she would use the name ‘Ali’ in the future and would not change it to ‘Magan’.
However; in the last paragraph Ayaan ‘admitted’ that solely she was to blaim for the mess and that she was very sorry. Ayaan, however, said that she did not want to sign that declaration, due to the last paragraph because she did not agree with it. But; if she didn’t sign the entire declaration things would have taken much more time. So, to be sure that she would keep her Dutch nationality, she signed it anyway.
Balkenende admitted, during the debate, that the last paragraph – in which Ayaan takes complete responsibility – was initiated by Verdonk, so it ‘could be acceptable’ to her.
Where I’m from we call that ‘blackmail’. One of the government coalition parties D66 agreed with me.
D66 not only agreed with Michael, they put their opinion to use: they withdrew from the governing coalition after their motion to impeach Verdonk failed. The Dutch will now have to hold new national elections and put together a new government, while Ayaan has had to pay for her bravery with threatened deportation and humiliation. Rita Verdonk has had quite an impact on Dutch politics — one that she will never live down.