MP may be deported over claims she lied to win asylum

The political career of the Netherlands' most prominent MP was thrown into doubt as an investigation was launched into explosive allegations that she lied about her past in order to gain residence status and Dutch nationality.

Ayann Hirsi Ali, who has won an array of international awards for bravery and free speech, has been accused of making up a story to immigration officers in which she claimed she had fled from a forced, arranged marriage and that she faced persecution in her native Somalia.

A Dutch television documentary, aired last week, featured interviews with Ms Hirsi Ali's family in which her claims of an arranged marriage were denied. The programme also alleged that, contrary to her claims of having fled a war zone in Somalia, the MP had lived in comfortable upper middle-class circumstances safely in Kenya for at least 12 years before she sought refugee status in the Netherlands in 1992. Her family home - which is large and comfortable by Kenyan standards - was shown in the programme.

Rita Verdonk, the Minister for Immigration and a member of Ms Hirsi Ali's own VVD right-wing liberal party, announced a full investigation into the furore last night, insisting that "laws and rules are valid for everyone".

Ms Hirsi Ali, 36, became internationally known when a film she wrote provoked the murder of its controversial director, Theo van Gogh, by an Islamic radical in 2004. With her own life under threat, she went into hiding and still lives under 24-hour protection. She has never, however, strayed far from the international spotlight and has won a string of awards for her battle to raise awareness of the plight of many Muslim women.

When interviewed by the highly-respected Zembla TV programme, Ms Hirsi Ali's family members denied she had been forced into marriage against her will to her former husband, a Somalian man who now lives in Canada, or that she had not been present at the wedding ceremony, as she had previously claimed. The couple are said to have parted amicably and her family denied that she had fled a marriage she did not want.

When questioned by the documentary makers, the MP stuck by her denial of being present at her own wedding. Her brother Mahad Hirsi Magan, who first claimed that his sister did attend her own wedding, has since changed his story.

But Kees Driehuis of Zembla said: "We stick by the content. We spoke to different members of her family and we know that Hirsi Ali has been in touch with her brother since the programme went out. Perhaps that has something to do with it."

Asked whether she had falsified her asylum application, she told the programme: "I lied", but said this had been public knowledge in 2002 when the VVD chose her as a candidate.

Ms Hirsi Ali, whose real name is Hirsi Magan, pretended she had come to the Netherlands from Somalia, rather than via Kenya and Germany. Refugees are usually required to apply for asylum in the first safe country they reach after fleeing.

Ms Hirsi Ali, who said yesterday that she was "puzzled by the uproar," accused her rivals of a co- ordinated political vendetta against her. "Have they all gone mad?" she asked.

Political opponents want her stripped of her Dutch citizenship and deported. Others say she should be expelled from parliament.

The issue is particularly sensitive for the VVD as the party has taken a hard line on immigration, introducing tough new citizenship tests and leading a drive to expel 26,000 failed asylum- seekers. It has said that any foreigner found to have lied about their circumstances should be prohibited from having Dutch citizenship.

Ms Hirsi Ali rose to fame after the murder of Van Gogh in November 2004. Defiant as ever, Ms Hirsi Ali is working on a sequel to the film she made with Van Gogh on Islam's treatment of homosexuality called Submission 2.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers