Little Green Footballs

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A tale of two refugees

Once upon a time, there was a young woman from a war-torn Muslim country who fled to the Netherlands under false pretenses. Once in her new home, she learned the language and enrolled in school.

And you know the rest of the story: she became a celebrity, entered politics, renounced her faith, and was elected to Parliament. Today she is one of the best-known public figures in the Netherlands; her anti-Muslim films and speeches have brought her international renown.

But this story is about a different young woman whose name is not Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

This other young woman, who comes from a war-torn Muslim country, fled to the Netherlands under false pretenses. Once in her new home, she learned the language and enrolled in school.

Then, one day, armed officers entered her classroom and dragged her to prison. Soon thereafter, the Dutch government declared that she had to leave the country, without even allowing her to sit her final exams. Two weeks ago, she returned to Kosovo.

Her name is Taida Pasic. If you've never heard of her, that's not surprising, because her case did not attract much attention outside the Netherlands.

At this point, you may be wondering why Tasic was expelled from the Netherlands for not having her papers in order, while Hirsi Ali was not.

The answer can be summarized in three letters: VVD. That is the name of the political party to which Hirsi Ali belongs. It is currently in government, and Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is also a member. Verdonk has made it her mission to reduce the numbers of asylum-seekers and immigrants to the Netherlands, and she has been so successful that the Netherlands is now experiencing its lowest population growth on record.

In fact, Verdonk herself has said that if she had been in charge of immigration when Hirsi Ali applied for asylum, she would have turned her away.

Which is surely cold comfort for Taida Pasic. But maybe she's better off living in a country whose leaders aren't quite so brazen about being lying, hypocritical opportunists.

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