Her lies in the naturalisation process notwithstanding, it seems that, one way or another, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the controversial feminist, Islam critic, and former Dutch parlamentarian, will be able to retain her Dutch citizenship. If she still wants it.
Even though she had reportedly planned to move to the United States to work for the American Enterprise Institute for a longer time and a number of reasons – not the least of which may have been that, as argued by the Neue ZÃ¼rcher Zeitung (in German), the Netherlands had grown a little tired of paying the bills for her non-compromising, crusadesque stance against Islam (as opposed to her new employer) – the circumstances causing her immediate resignation from the Dutch Parliament are a significant event in Dutch, maybe European politics, although I suppose it will only later become clear what exactly it means.
This week’s Economist, on the other hand, believes it already knows the answer (but keeps it behind the subscription wall). The magazine argues that it is not the case that, as some Americans apaprently believe, Europeans have decided that appeasement is the appropriate strategy for dealing with radical Islam, but that, as can be seen by, say, the anti hijab-legislation in France –
“America may be an easier place than Europe to be either a Muslim or an anti-Muslim. … Europe can be tough; what it lacks is a robust culture of free speech and free personal behaviour”
I don’t know if America is a better place to be for Muslims or anti-Muslims. But I’d like to disagree as far as Europe’s free speech culture is attacked. To use the example provided by the Economist – every hijab-related verdict or legislation was discussed fervently in every affected European country – for an idea to which extent, just have a look at our archives.
But more importantly, to take an event that has its root causes in extreme personal behaviour on the one hand and the only recently limitedly radicalised, usually overly compromising (previously consociational) Dutch political system on the other, and to conclude, based on this evidence, that “Europe has no robust culture of free speech” is, quite frankly, a bit much.
Moreover, at the risk of oversimplifying a lot of things, I would like to argue that Europe’s public discourse has, in general, been able to cope rather well with the increasing heterogeneity of its citizenry, even without excessive use of formal, or informal, political correctness. In other words, I am quite happy that Europeans, apparently contrary to the Economist, are not simply using the amplitude of arguments made in a public discourse as an indicator of the quality thereof.