Op-Ed: "Liberalism Under Pressure" by Lisa Jardine

June 5, 2006

Source: BBC News


On June 5, 2006 BBC News ran an opinion piece by Lisa Jardine on the restriction of freedoms in Holland, "The removal of an immigrant raising awkward political questions is a warning sign over the future of the tradition of free speech and tolerance in Holland. There are times when a small event raises an issue of enormous importance. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born politician and women's rights activist, is leaving Holland for good... It's a strange irony that a country which has for centuries welcomed all those fleeing persecution should find it impossible to continue to provide Hirsi Ali with a refuge... Hirsi Ali arrived in Holland as an asylum-seeker in 1992, fleeing a forced marriage. There she campaigned tirelessly to draw attention to the abuses suffered by Holland's deprived Islamic women. In 2003 she became a member of Parliament for the Dutch Liberal Party, and successfully raised the profile of her cause, earning widespread admiration. She attracted fierce anger, however, from radical elements in the immigrant Islamic community... Three weeks ago, Ayaan Hirsi Ali resigned from the Dutch Parliament. In the face of a growing clamour from both the Muslim and the secular communities to silence her, she has decided to re-settle in Washington... Holland is the canary in the mine-shaft... When the Dutch canary stops singing, we should beware. It will tell us that we have sacrificed personal liberty and freedom of speech out of fear of assassination on some street corner in broad daylight."