AMSTERDAM — Liberal Party MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been ordered to vacate the high-security home she is renting in The Hague within four months.
An appeal court sided with her neighbours who complained her presence put their own safety at risk and caused disruption to their lives. Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner broke the news of the court decision at an EU meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday.
Somali-born Hirsi Ali is known as a critic of aspects of Islam and she went into hiding in November 2004 when filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered. They had finished work shortly before his murder on Submission, a short film about the ill-treatment of women under Islam.
Hirsi Ali and fellow MP Geert Wilders spent several months in hiding in secret locations due to death threats made against them because of their stance on Islam. “I think this is dreadful, horrible to have to move. I am happy living here and I feel safe,” Hirsi Ali said in response to the judgement.
The neighbours lost their case initially but they won on Thursday when an appeal court accepted Hirsi Ali’s presence meant they no longer felt safe in their own apartments or in the communal areas of the complex. The court ruled that is contravened Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights which guarantees respect for a person’s private and family life.
The Dutch State had contravened these rights by moving to the apartment complex without seeking their consent and without taking measures to diminish the neighbours’ valid fears, the court said.
A few things. Firstly, it should be noted that Hirsi Ali is now booted out of her own house by virtue of the European Treaty for Human Rights which does indeed supersede Dutch law. Many cases are adjudicated by referring to this treaty, but given the subject matter here I would say: Euroskeptics, go knock yourselves out.
The State may appeal this ruling, in which case it will go to the Dutch Supreme Court. The potential of a ruling that will favor Hirsi Ali and is able to address the upset neighbors may turn out to become a costly adventure for Dutch authorities as it is not just about one outspoken member of parliament. Beyond a number of politicians there is a growing constituency of writers, artists and cartoonists who may rightfully claim government protection. And in most cases their neighbors are equally likely to take a less than charitable view of their right to exercise free speech. This is once more evidence of how Europeans fail to understand the bigger picture and are more than willing to let some short term comfort prevail over the long term survival of core values that built their societies in the first place.
So there are no winners here. The neighborhood is unmasked as a group whose shallow self interest is paramount, the State may have made a few mistakes and will have to spend yet more on security and Ayaan, well, she remains the hunted one. It seems that those responsible for threatening her will have the last laugh.
Let’s hope not.
Hat tip: Blogs For Bush
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