Friday, May 19, 2006

How far the Dutch have fallen

The past few days I think about all Dutch media has covered the story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and I can only imagine how many weblogs and blogs have been written about the matter. As I understand it, non Dutch media also jumped on the story. So why should I still comment on it?

Well, a few things during the entire debate, or be it debacle, stood out for me. First of all I must make it perfectly clear that I am in no way a supporter of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. My view of her is of a scorned woman out of indiscriminate vengeance towards all Muslims. Somebody who lets her raw and pure hatred for the wrongs done to her lead her words and actions, and as such causes damage to the cause she herself stands for.

Now having said that you might think I would be happy with the way things turned out in the Netherlands for her. But actually I am not. While I did not and do not agree with her in any possible way, there is nothing but shame and disgrace in the way she was dealt with. And I honestly believe the way she was handled was a combination of pure stupidity combined with blind ambition of Rita Verdonk (the immigration Minster).

Two things in the debate struck me, and one thing in publications from the foreign media. Lets first address the issue of the foreign media. They all condemned the Dutch political parties for letting Ayaan Hirsi Ali fall. But if you watched the debates, I think only two people in the entire government supported what was done to her. Everybody else, from her supporters to her opponents felt she had been done a great wrong, one that needed to be righted. Yes, the eventual motion to try and return the decision to strip Ayaan of her Dutch citizenship was weak, but most foreign newspapers commented on the matter long before the motion. The motion also was clearly meant to be "strict", but not so strict to make the cabinete fall. Political safety before bravery. Which sadly is the way of the Dutch...

The two issues that struck me in the debate. The first is, what where we actually talking about? She wasn't stripped of her citizenship for lying as most people implied. If you really followed the debate you understood what actually happened. Because she gave a false name and date of birth for her naturalisation according to law she technically wasn't naturalist to Dutch citizenship. Basically if your name is "Alli Babba" and you say your name is "Mohamed Agban" then "Mohaman Agban" become Dutch and not you who is actually called "Alli Babba". It really is as simple as that. It's a legal technicality. Nothing more, nothing less. No stripping of your nationality happens, you technically just never got it. As your name is used to identify you.

Basically this is the application of rules above common sense. Your name becomes your primary and unique identifier and your nationality is connected to that unique identifier. Which is exactly where the mistakes start. For one a name is hardly a unique identifier. There are many "Alli Babbas" in the world so to say. Also it treats people to much as machines, as well a database. And it rules out our humanity.

Now the second thing that struck me. After much debate it turned out this can be easily fixed by a simple administrative task. You correct your name in a government database and redo the procedure. A bit clumsy, but there you go. However!! The government doesn't inform you of this and in fact deports people after the fact before they can do a simple administrative task! In the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali she had a permanent refuge status she can fall back on to stay in the country basically. But many people whom this befalls where on a temporary status. So say Alli Babba had a temp. status till 2004. In 2003 he became of the Dutch Nationality. In 2005 they discover he is really named differently, Dutch nationality as such was not officially granted. Now he falls back on his previous status, which ended in 2004. And as such.. he is deported!! And that is an outrage! The government deports people over a written, legal technicality.

This furthermore comes to light in something else also mentioned in the debate. If you lie during your initial intake as a refugee you can also later be deported without any further reason and this happens. Well, rules are rules not? This also includes women who when they first arrive here are scared and don't in the initial briefing mention they have been raped or even gang rapped. This counts as lying as well and is a reason for being deported! Or Muslim homosexuals who don't immediately mention they are homosexual. Two cases you can very easily understand people would not be open about it, one out of shame and the other out of fear.

And then you have people who claim this to be fair? Isn't the immigration policy meant to keep out economic refugees (not that I agree with that, but I can understand it) and protect political refugees and those who need our protection? This has nothing to do with this anymore! This means actual political refugees are send back based on... based on nothing! On a legal formality! This has nothing to do with humanity anymore, with fairness, with civilisation. This is a farce, a black-mark... something so shameful and spiteful... is this what the Dutch nation stands for? Have we honestly lost our humanity so badly? Have we fallen so far? I guess we have.

I am sorry for Ayaan Hirsi Ali and what happened to her. I wish her situation will be righted and she will remain a Dutch citizen. I may not agree with her, but this is not right. And I wish this situation will shine light on the horrible crimes done in our, the Dutch peoples, name and be righted not just for Ayaan, but for all those who suffer under it. Ironically I don't think Ayaan did anything for anybody in a constructive way (to much hate to actually be constructive), but this might be her gift to those in a less famous position then her. I am glad however the protection of Ayaan stays in place and they didn't remove that when she resigned from the Dutch government, as she lives in permanent danger due to what she says. And I fear the fact she found a job advising Bush in the US. Do we honestly wish a spiteful hatemonger like Ayaan whispering in the ear of one of the worst war-criminals and warmongers the world has ever seen? But at least her future is ensured. Let is also be ensured for all others in her position.

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