- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dutch ‘safe haven’

The Dutch ambassador insists that his country remains a safe haven for political refugees despite a row over the citizenship of a Somali-born female legislator who acknowledged lying on her application for asylum 14 years ago.

Ambassador Boudewijn J. van Eenennaam said Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who lives in fear of her life because she criticized the treatment of women under Islamic law, “is not being extradited from the Netherlands, nor is she being asked to leave.” He noted that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has asked her to stay and promised to help her retain her citizenship or reapply if her status is rejected because she lied about her name and date of birth when she applied to become a Dutch citizen.

The ambassador also said the government is providing her 24-hour protection because of death threats. Miss Ali, a member of the center-right VVD party, said over the weekend that she will remain in Amsterdam while her case is under review. The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research has offered her a position if she comes to Washington, and Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick said last week that she is welcome to immigrate to the United States.

“Miss Hirsi Ali sought refuge in the Netherlands because it is a country that embraces freedom of speech and is founded on freedom of expression,” Mr. van Eenennaam said.

He added that the Netherlands is struggling with immigration problems, such as border security and illegal aliens. “Still, the Netherlands has been and remains a safe haven for dissidents,” he said.

Miss Ali wrote the script for a film about the mistreatment of women in Islamic countries, and a Muslim extremist killed the director, Theo van Gogh, two years ago.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• Telmo Baltazar, counselor for justice and homeland affairs at the European Union, and Michael Carpenter, adviser to Britain’s House of Commons on European legislation, who address a forum on terrorism at the National Press Club.

• Claudia Lemboumba Sassou-Nguesso, daughter and senior adviser to President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, who is preparing for her father’s visit next month.

• Tatiana Shakleina, chief of the Department of Foreign Policy Studies at Russia’s Institute of the U.S. and Canadian Studies. She addresses a forum hosted by Women in International Security at Georgetown University.


• Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who meets President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. Mr. Olmert addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

• Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who meets Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

cShahid Javed Burki, former finance minister of Pakistan, who participates in a panel discussion on Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.


• Barbara McDougall, former foreign minister of Canada, and Christopher Thomas, former ambassador to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago. They address the Inter-American Dialogue on the findings of their report on Haiti, which was sponsored by the International Republican Institute.


• Yuri Dzhibladze, president of Russia’s Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, and Tanya Lokshina, chairwoman of the Moscow think tank Demos. They address a briefing sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

• Hernando de Soto of Peru’s Institute for Liberty and Democracy, who receives the Bradley Prize at a John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts ceremony.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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