Crocodile tears for Ayaan

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With Ayaan Hirsi Magan’s resignation after the exposure of her asylum grounds as largely false and her Dutch citizenship now in serious doubt, the hypocritical crocodile tears are beginning to flow in large numbers. Robert Spencer calls it “persecution”, the immigration minister Rita Verdonk “lamentable” and the politicians involved “despicable, black-hearted Dutch dhimmis” who “evidently want to take the greatest stateman they have produced in this age and send her back to Somalia and certain death”. Melanie Phillips talks of the Dutch being “in the throes of a pathological moral convulsion” and her downfall “a development that shames the Dutch people and should strike a chill throughout the rest of dhimmi Europe”. (More: Pickled Politics, MPACUK, CLOSER, Muslim Contrarian, Umar Lee, Izzy Mo, Crooked Timber.)

These people continually overlook salient facts about why Ayaan Hirsi Magan’s position has become untenable. The fact is that, having given a false name and age, her citizenship is invalid, and the lies she told when she applied for refugee status in the Netherlands meant she always was working on borrowed time. Had she declared that she came from Kenya, it is unlikely that she would have been admitted unless it was on grounds of political trouble there (as that was the time of the Moi dictatorship). Given that she lived for twelve years in Kenya, and had not merely used it as a staging post, and that her family disputed the various claims she made about being married off and fleeing an abusive marriage, it appeared that they had overlooked her dubious status for too long. She was no longer an asset, but a liability, and had to go.

Phillips acknowledged that AH Magan’s lying about her journey to the Netherlands “was wrong, and she shouldn’t have done it”, but insisted that “the fact that she was a refugee from Islamist oppression was true”. In what way? In that she had been married off against her will and had fled from that? Not according to her family. Furthermore, she could easily have followed her husband to Canada, and if she still found it oppressive, she could have made the same scene there that she ended up making in the Netherlands. Note her use of the term “Islamist oppression”: in what way was it Islamist? She further alleges that Ayaan Hirsi is “being broken and bullied out of the country by an unholy alliance of venomous leftists, spineless public servants — including those of a highly conservative disposition — and radical Islamists, all giving a victory to the forces of evil”. Again, those forcing her out are her former allies, whose anti-immigrant policies her anti-Islam campaigning benefited as long as people forgot that she was an illegal immigrant.

Furthermore, “it is oppressive to haul up someone in this way years after she has settled as a citizen”. Rubbish! The expulsion of illegal immigrants who have lived in the country since childhood, or who have borne children here, or were born here to illegal immigrants, are all known of in various European countries including the UK regardless of what an asset they have become in their local community - I mean real assets to the local community who mind their own business and pay their taxes (such as the Onibiyo and Kachepa families in the UK), not political troublemakers. It is all par for the unpleasant course of immigration control. There are many, many deserving exceptions, but when someone becomes an immigrant and then a citizen on demonstrably false grounds, and then makes a name for herself attacking an immigrant community, sooner or later it is to be expected that her past would come back to haunt her.

The excuse Ayaan Hirsi presented when giving her resignation speech yesterday therefore comes down to fleeing an unwanted marriage, and this is generally not considered a good reason for giving someone asylum unless the story is embellished somewhat - particularly when they already have residency for another western country. Does anyone think Europe should open its doors to every woman in the world with marital problems? As for the issue of FGM, it has no relevance to her asylum claim whatsoever: if she has already had it done, as she claims she did (arranged by her grandmother against her father’s wishes), then whether she lives in the Netherlands or Canada or Kenya will not change that.

Ayaan Hirsi’s campaign has been grist to the mill for everyone looking to demonise Islam and Muslims, and a great source of distress for not only “radical Islamists” but for anyone looking to defend the Muslim community itself. Put simply, she has dragged the community’s name through the mud by presenting all of the usual stereotypes, in some cases about matters which are particular to some parts of the world and not others (such as FGM, an overwhelmingly African practice which is also found among non-Muslim Africans and is unknown in most of the Muslim world). Some of the problems she talked of are real, but there are people working to address them from within the community, rather than use them as a political football by portraying all Muslims in a bad light. This article in The Nation (hat tip: Raz at Pickled Politics) demonstrates that many of those working to do the same in the Netherlands reject Ayaan Hirsi’s campaign:

Karima Belhaj is the director of the largest women’s shelter in Amsterdam. She’s also one of the organizers of the “Stop the Witchhunt!” campaign against what she sees as anti-Muslim hysteria. On the day we talked, she was despondent. Arsonists had set fire for the second time to an Islamic school in the town of Uden. A few days later a regional police unit warned that the rise of right-wing Dutch youth gangs potentially presents a more dangerous threat to the country than Islamist terrorism. “The rise of Islamism is not the problem,” Belhaj said. “The problem is that hatred against Arabs and Muslims is shown in this country without any shame.” With her message that Muslim women must give up their faith and their families if they want to be liberated, Hirsi Ali is actually driving women into the arms of the fundamentalists, said Belhaj: “She attacks their values, so they are wearing more and more veils. It frightens me. I’m losing my country. I’m losing my people.” If Belhaj was sad, another “Stop the Witchhunt!” organizer was angry. Like Belhaj, Miriyam Aouragh is a second-generation immigrant of Moroccan background. A self-described peace and women’s activist, Aouragh was the first in her family to attend university. She’s now studying for a PhD in anthropology. She scoffs at the idea that Hirsi Ali is a champion of oppressed Muslim women. “She’s nothing but an Uncle Tom,” Aouragh said. “She has never fought for the oppressed. In fact, she’s done the opposite. She uses these problems as a cover to attack Islam. She insults me and she makes my life as a feminist ten times harder because she forces me to be associated with anti-Muslim attacks.”

With regard to violence, it should be pointed out that attacks by Muslims on individual westerners in the west for insulting or attacking Islam are very rare indeed - while murders and violent incidents arising from petty personal slights, or even less than that, are very common. The bark of the Muslim community in the west is somewhat worse than its bite. FGM is on the decline, a point often missed in any debate in which it is cited, and while women do tend to have less freedom than white middle-class western women, their existence is rather more dignified than a lot of other western women. Religious Muslims do not tend to refer to women as bitches and ho’s (ghetto Arab youths influenced by American gangsta culture may do, however). Perhaps some Muslim women realise that “westernising” their ghettoes in Paris or Amsterdam is more likely to bring them drugs, gangsterism and yob culture than a comfortable, “liberated” middle-class life.

A number of Ayaan’s fans accuse the Dutch of cowardice and of rejecting her because they are somehow afraid of “Islamofascism” or “the jihad”, hoping they will go away if the messenger is removed, as if either are capable in Holland, or anywhere else in Europe, of much more than displays of blind anger or the occasional bomb (with a bit of help from their buddies abroad). The suggestion that her departure is a loss for the Netherlands, let alone for Europe, is laughable. Her new audience of religious reactionaries, neo-cons and inveterate, dishonest anti-Muslim bigots are welcome to this shrill Uncle Tom type. Let us hope that we in Europe can raise the tone of the debate on immigration and containing extremism, both within the Muslim community and elsewhere.

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