IN OTHER WORDS : Intolerance
Immigration is a political mess in America, but it’s reasonably tractable compared with the problem in the Netherlands, which has seen its liberal values turned inside out by tensions between Muslim immigrants and the Dutch. The question, broadly speaking, is whether multiculturalism is possible in such a small, ethnically homogeneous nation, or whether the government will keep insisting on assimilation.
There have been flash points along the way, chief among them the 2004 murder of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim extremist. Now there’s a new one: the resignation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was born in Somalia, from parliament. When she sought refuge in the Netherlands in 1992, she gave a false birth date and a false name. But the real point is that Hirsi Ali has become too potent a social critic to be tolerated any longer.
In the script of van Gogh’s film, “Submission,” and in her speeches and books — including “The Caged Virgin,” which has just been published — Hirsi Ali has been an unflinching advocate of women’s rights and an unflinching critic of Islamic extremism. Her life has been threatened, and she is still in real danger. Hirsi Ali, whose real name is Ayaan Hirsi Magan, says she plans to leave the Netherlands for the US. She should be welcomed under either name. — The New York Times