"I came to Holland in the summer of 1992 because I
wanted to be able to determine my own future. I didn’t want to be forced into
a destiny that other people had chosen for me, so I opted for the protection
of the rule of law. Here in Holland,
I found freedom and opportunities, and I took those opportunities to speak
out against religious terror.
In January 2003, at the invitation of the VVD party, I became a member of
parliament. I accepted the VVD’s invitation on the condition that I would be
the party’s spokesman for the emancipation of women and the integration of
What exactly did I want to achieve?
First of all I wanted to put the oppression of immigrant women -- especially
Muslim women – squarely on the Dutch political agenda. Second, I wanted Holland to pay
attention to the specific cultural and religious issues that were holding
back many ethnic minorities, instead of always taking a one-sided approach
that focused only on their socio-economic circumstances. Lastly, I wanted
politicians to grasp the fact that major aspects of Islamic doctrine and
tradition, as practiced today, are incompatible with the open society.
Now I have to ask myself, have I accomplished that task?
I have stumbled often in my political career. It has sometimes been
frustrating and slow. However, I am completely certain that I have, in my own
way, succeeded in contributing to the debate. Issues related to Islam – such
as impediments to free speech; refusal of the separation of Church and State;
widespread domestic violence; honor killings; the repudiation of wives; and
Islam’s failure to condemn genital mutilation -- these subjects can no longer
be swept under the carpet in our country’s capital. Some of the measures that
this government has begun taking give me satisfaction. Many illusions of how
easy it will be to establish a multicultural society have disappeared
forever. We are now more realistic and more open in this debate, and I am
proud to have contributed to that process.
Meanwhile, the ideas which I espouse have begun spreading to other countries.
In recent years I have given speeches and attended debates in many European
countries and in the United
States. For months now, I have felt that I
needed to make a decision: should I go on in Dutch politics, or should I now
transfer my ideas to an international forum?
In the fall of 2005 I told Gerrit Zalm and Jozias van Aartsen, the leaders of
the VVD, that I would not be a candidate for the parliamentary elections in
2007. I had decided to opt for a more international platform, because I
wanted to contribute to the international debate on the emancipation of
Muslim women and the complex relationship between Islam and the West.
Now that I am announcing that I will resign from Dutch politics, I would like
to thank the members of the VVD for my years in parliament – to thank them
for inviting me to stand for parliament, and -- perhaps more importantly --
for putting up with me while I was there, for this has been in many ways a rough
ride for us all. I want to thank my other colleagues here in parliament for
their help, although some of our debates have been sharp. (Femke Halsema,
thank you especially for that!). I would also like to thank the 30,758 people
who in January 2003 trusted their preference vote to a newcomer.
But why am I not remaining in parliament for my full term, until next year’s
election? Why, after only three and a half years, have I decided to resign
from the Lower Chamber?
It is common knowledge that threats against my life began building up ever
since I first talked about Islam publicly, in the spring of 2002. Months
before I even entered politics, my freedom of movement was greatly curtailed,
and that became worse after Theo van Gogh was murdered in 2004. I have been
obliged to move house so many times I have lost count. The direct cause for
the ending of my membership in parliament is that on April 27 of this year, a
Dutch court ruled that I must once again leave my home, because my neighbors
filed a complaint that they could not feel safe living next to me. The Dutch
government will appeal this verdict and I grateful for that, because how on
earth will other people whose lives are threatened manage to find a place to
stay if this verdict is allowed to rest? However, this appeal does not alter
my situation: I have to leave my apartment by the end of August.
Another reason for my departure is the discussion that has arisen from a TV
program, The Holy Ayaan, which was aired on May 11. This program centered on
two issues: the story that I told when I was applying for asylum here in Holland, and questions
about my forced marriage.
I have been very open about the fact that when I applied for asylum in the Netherlands
in 1992, I did so under a false name and with a fabricated story. In 2002, I
spoke on national television about the conditions of my arrival, and I said
then that I fabricated a story in order to be able to receive asylum here.
Since that TV program I have repeated this dozens of times, in Dutch and
international media. Many times I have truthfully named my father and given
my correct date of birth. (You will find a selection of these articles in the
press folder). I also informed the VVD leadership and members of this fact
when I was invited to stand for parliament.
I have said many times that I am not proud that I lied when I sought asylum
in the Netherlands.
It was wrong to do so. I did it because I felt I had no choice. I was
frightened that if I simply said I was fleeing a forced marriage, I would be
sent back to my family. And I was frightened that if I gave my real name, my
clan would hunt me down and find me. So I chose a name that I thought I could
disappear with – the real name of my grandfather, who was given the
birth-name Ali. I claimed that my name was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, although I should
have said it was Ayaan Hirsi Magan.
You probably are wondering, what is my real name?
I am Ayaan, the daughter of Hirsi, who is the son of a man who took the name
of Magan. Magan was the son of Isse, who was the son of Guleid, who was the
son of Ali. He was the son of Wai’ays, who was the son of Muhammad. He was
the son of Ali, who was the son of Umar. Umar was the son of Osman, who was
the son of Mahamud. This is my clan, and therefore, in Somalia, this
is my name: Ayaan Hirsi Magan Isse Guleid Ali Wai’ays Muhammad Ali Umar Osman
Following the May 11 television broadcast, legal questions have been raised
about my naturalization as a Dutch citizen. Minister Verdonk has written to
me saying that my passport will be annulled, because it was issued to a
person who does not hold my real name. I am not at liberty to discuss the
legal issues in this case.
Now for the questions about my forced marriage. Last week’s TV program cast
doubt on my credibility in that respect, and the final conclusion of the
documentary is that all this is terribly complicated. Let me tell you, it’s
not so complex. The allegations that I willingly married my distant cousin,
and was present at the wedding ceremony, are simply untrue. This man arrived
in Nairobi from Canada, asked my father for one
of his five daughters, and my father gave him me. I can assure you my father
is not a man who takes no for an answer. Still, I refused to attend the
formal ceremony, and I was married regardless. Then, on my way to Canada -- during a stopover in Germany -- I traveled to the Netherlands
and asked for asylum here. In all simplicity this is what happened, nothing
more and nothing less. For those who are interested in the intimate details
of my transition from a pre-modern society to a modern one, and how I came to
love what the West stands for, please read my memoir, which is due to be
published this fall.
To return to the present day, may I say that it is difficult to live with so
many threats on your life and such a level of police protection. It is
difficult to work as a parliamentarian if you have nowhere to live. All that
is difficult, but not impossible. It has become impossible since last night,
when Minister Verdonk informed me that she would strip me of my Dutch
I am therefore preparing to leave Holland.
But the questions for our society remain. The future of Islam in our country;
the subjugation of women in Islamic culture; the integration of the many
Muslims in the West: it is self-deceit to imagine that these issues will
I will continue to ask uncomfortable questions, despite the obvious
resistance that they elicit. I feel that I should help other people to live
in freedom, as many people have helped me. I personally have gone through a
long and sometimes painful process of personal growth in this country. It
began with learning to tell the truth to myself, and then the truth about
myself: I strive now to also tell the truth about society as I see it.
That transition from becoming a member of a clan to becoming a citizen in an
open society is what public service has come to mean for me. Only clear
thinking and strong action can lead to real change, and free many people
within our society from the mental cage of submission. The idea that I can
contribute to their freedom, whether in the Netherlands or in another
country, gives me deep satisfaction.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as of today, I resign from Parliament. I regret that I
will be leaving the Netherlands,
the country which has given me so many opportunities and enriched my life,
but I am glad that I will be able to continue my work. I will go on."