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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06THEHAGUE1109 2006-05-16 16:15:00 SECRET Embassy The Hague
Cable title:  

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: PARLIAMENTARIAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY

Tags:   KISL NL PHUM PINR PREF PREL 
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VZCZCXRO6596
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV
DE RUEHTC #1109/01 1361615
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 161615Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5728
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY 0404
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 001109 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/16/2016
TAGS: KISL NL PHUM PINR PREF PREL
SUBJECT: AYAAN HIRSI ALI: PARLIAMENTARIAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY

REF: "POLITICS IN THE NETHERLANDS" 5/15-16/06

Classified By: AMBASSADOR ROLAND ARNALL FOR REASONS 1.5(B) AND (D)



1. (S) SUMMARY: The surprise decision by Dutch Immigration
Minister Rita Verdonk to strip maverick parliamentarian Ayaan
Hirsi Ali of her Dutch citizenship has sent shock waves
through the Netherlands. Hirsi Ali announced on May 16 that
she was immediately resigning from parliament. Verdonk's
controversial ruling has generated some immediate public
support, but could split the VVD -- the party to which both
Verdonk and Hirsi Ali belong -- and even threaten the
cabinet. If Verdonk's decision is upheld, Hirsi Ali would
regain Somali citizenship and refugee status, and could
remain in the Netherlands indefinitely; privately, however,
she has confirmed that she would like to live and work in the
United States. END SUMMARY.



2. (S) As anticipated refs, Dutch parliamentarian and
international celebrity Ayaan Hirsi Ali announced at an
emotional May 16 press conference her immediate resignation
from Parliament. The announcement followed the surprise
finding by Minister of Immigration and Integration Rita
Verdonk May 15 that Hirsi Ali's naturalization had been
acquired fraudulently and therefore was invalid. The fact
that Hirsi Ali had falsified information, including her name,
when applying for naturalization had long been known to VVD
party leaders -- as confirmed by Deputy Prime
Minister/Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm, who stood beside Hirsi
Ali at her press conference -- but a recent expose by the
news program "Zembla" recently focused public attention on
the issue. Under Dutch law, Hirsi Ali has six weeks to
appeal Verdonk's ruling and has indicated that she will do
so. Although the Dutch press reported that she plans to move
to the United States within the next few months to accept a
job at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Hirsi Ali
refused at her press conference to answer questions about her
future plans, other than to note that the loss of her Dutch
citizenship had "complicated" her options. In a private
meeting with Ambassador Arnall later on May 16, however, she
confirmed that she expected shortly to receive a firm job
offer from AEI.



3. (C) For Hirsi Ali, the de-naturalization decision was the
latest in a string of frustrations, which also included a
recent court ruling that she would have to leave her current
residence because her neighbors were unhappy with her
security arrangements. She had privately hinted for over a
year that she would move to the U.S. if she could find an
appropriate platform to continue her struggle against
religious terror, extremism, and intolerance. Verdonk's hand
appears to have been forced by former Minister of Immigration
and Integration Hildebrand Nawijn's public demand that
Verdonk apply the same standards to Hirsi Ali that she has in
similar cases of allegedly fraudulent naturalizations.
Nawijn, a former associate of murdered populist leader Pim
Fortuyn, may have hoped to embarrass Verdonk and Hirsi Ali
while building support for his own nascent far-right
political movement. An informal poll taking by the leading
Dutch daily "Telegraaf" indicates that 88 percent of readers
believe that Hirsi Ali should not have received Dutch
citizenship on the basis of fraudulent information, and
opinion was nearly unanimous that immigration regulations
should apply equally to everyone, "especially members of
parliament."



4. (C) According to contacts at the Dutch Immigration and
Naturalization Service (IND), Hirsi Ali will automatically
regain Somali nationality if the invalidation decision is
upheld after six weeks. She would also, at that time,
automatically return to "refugee status" and have the right
to remain in the Netherlands indefinitely; this status would
also entitle her to receive a "refugee" passport if she
cannot obtain one from another country. While she would be
eligible to re-apply for Dutch citizenship, the fact that she
falsified information the first time would be taken into
consideration.

ANALYSIS:


--------------------------





5. (C) By rigidly applying the same standards to Hirsi Ali --
a member of her own party, the VVD -- as to other immigrants,
Verdonk reinforces her reputation as the "iron lady" of Dutch
politics and could further enhance her standing on the
political right. This, in turn, may help her win her hotly
contested race against State Secretary for Education Mark
Rutte to lead the VVD into elections next May. While the
more centrist Rutte continues to enjoy much support among the
VVD party membership -- including Hirsi Ali, who recently
wrote an op-ed piece in the Dutch daily "Volkskrant"
signaling support for Rutte -- most observers believe that

THE HAGUE 00001109 002 OF 002


Verdonk would be the more effective vote-getter nationally.




6. (C) On the other hand, Verdonk's decision to de-naturalize
an outspoken defender of individual rights angered many
prominent VVD members, including former leader Jozias van
Aartsen, European Commissioner Neelie Kroes, and Foreign
Policy Spokesman Hans van Baalen, in addition to Zalm. Even
many politicians who disapprove of Hirsi Ali's
confrontational style object to the ruling, and believe it
will seriously damage the Netherlands' reputation for
tolerance and openness. At its party congress on May 13, for
example, junior coalition partner D-66 passed a motion
condemning Verdonk's inflexibility with regard to several
thousand asylum seekers and refugees currently facing
possible deportation. There seems little doubt that Hirsi
Ali's departure from politics will become a major
election-year issue; at a minimum, it will widen existing
splits within the VVD on questions of immigration and
integration, and could also create serious rifts within the
cabinet and governing coalition. Deputy PM/Finance Minister
Gerrit Zalm, who joined Hirsi Ali at her press conference,
informed reporters that he expected the cabinet this week to
look at how Verdonk's decision was taken and to consider
whether it can be reversed.



7. (C) Nawijn, meanwhile, will to continue to force the
government to confront the potentially embarrassing
consequences of its policies. For example, on May 16, Nawijn
asked Verdonk to investigate the circumstances under which
Green Left MP Farah Karimi was naturalized. Karimi, an
Iranian immigrant who once belonged to the Mojahideen
al-Khalq, has also acknowledged in published interviews that
she was not completely truthful about her background when she
applied for citizenship. Following Hirsi Ali's press
conference, Green Left called for an immediate debate in
Parliament on the issue.






ARNALL