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Brussels Wants US To Protect Hirsi Ali
By Vanessa Mock
Amsterdam, March 6, 2008 – The EU says the United States should ensure the security of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
The former Somali-born Dutch politician has received death threats for her criticism of Islam and lives in the US, though Washington insists its not responsible for her safety.
The Dutch government has refused to pay her security bills ever since she decided to quit politics and left the Netherlands.
But EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini is now planning to turn up the heat on the US so that she and other Europeans are kept safe from danger.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a person in danger and deserves protection wherever she is - that's according to EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini.
Frattini has told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that he wants Washington to change its rules over the protection of foreigners living in the States.
Washington has refused to take responsibility for Ms Hirsi Ali's safety on the grounds that she's a Dutch citizen who came under threat because of her work in the Netherlands.
That's not good enough, says Franco Frattini. There should be a new deal between the two continents to ensure the security of one another's citizens, he says: "The best option would be to have a bilateral agreement with the US. I will meet the Homeland Security Secretary (Michael Chertoff) next week and I plan to raise the topic then. As far as I know, we in Europe guarantee the same level of protection that is appropriate for all high-level officials and normal people who are under protection in the US."
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been living under police protection ever since the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004, with whom she made a film about Islam's treatment of women.
A note targeting her by name was found on van Gogh's body.
She says it became impossible to live in the Netherlands and she's now struggling to raise millions of dollars every year to pay for her protection in the US.
"Since October I have been fundraising fulltime. When the money runs out I will have to go into hiding."
Except for Holland, she'd face the same problem in any other EU country.
That's why a campaign was recently launched to push for an EU fund to pay for the protection of Ms Hirsi Ali and others in danger. But it's not up to Brussels but individual countries to take responsibility, says Mr Frattini:
"I think it's premature to talk about a European fund. What's absolutely necessary is to guarantee to someone like this former Dutch MP, who's under protection for serious security reasons -the same level of protection in ALL member states of Europe. Otherwise we'll undermine the key European principle of freedom of movement."
Offering protection also means PAYING for that protection, the Justice Commissioner insists. Some French politicians recently invited Ms Hirsi Ali to live in France though there was no firm commitment from the government to foot her security bill. So should France be made to pay?
"Yes absolutely. The French police should look after her (or whoever) and guarantee the same level of protection. EVERY country should guarantee the same level of protection that the Dutch government guarantees to this person."
A clear message from the European Commission. But whether EU states are willing to take up his challenge is not yet certain.
Source: Radio Netherlands International