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18th Nov 2018

Hirsi Ali to receive protection across Europe, says Frattini

The EU's justice chief on Thursday (28 February) said that Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born former Dutch MP and target of death threats from Islamic fundamentalists would be offered protection across the European Union's 27 nations, Europe's justice chief announced on Thursday.

Justice, freedom and security commissioner Franco Frattini said EU member states were to draft special measures to guarantee freedom of movement across the Union for Ms Hirsi Ali and other individuals similarly targetted for what they have written or said, according to a late evening report in UK daily the Guardian.

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  • EU capitals are to draft special measures to guarantee freedom of movement across the Union for Ms Hirsi Ali (Photo: European Parliament)

However, the next day, the commissioner's spokesperson clarified further Mr Frattini's statement, trimming back the presumed scope of the pronouncement.

The paper had reported that Mr Frattini had said a "unanimous" decision on the matter had been reached at a lunch of the EU's 27 justice ministers and that host countries were to bear the cost of providing police protection. The agreement was to be "effective immediately" but no new laws would be necessary.

"Commissioner Frattini said that the commission's commitment to protecting freedom of expression is a fundamental right in the charter, and is protected by laws and legal systems of the member states," said the commissioner's spokesperson, Friso Roscam Abbing in a briefing to journalists.

"If a Danish cartoonist under threat wanted to attend a conference in Rome on freedom of expression, for example, then this should be done without this person facing any dangers," said Mr Roscam Abbing. "On the principle of solidarity, member states would assist each other in providing that protection, so that the cartoonist would arrive there and be protected by Italian authorities."

However, he added: "The protection of people vulnerable or under threat is under the full competence of the member states."

Challenged by a reporter that this in the end did not amount to much, the commission spokesperson insisted the commissioner's announcement was nonetheless "significant".

He did however concede that the justice ministers had had a "very general discusion for which there is no legislative follow-up at all."

Ms Hirsi Ali, who has been the subject of numerous death threats as a result of her blunt attacks on Islam, a fortnight ago visited the European Parliament to request help to fund her round-the-clock protection.

The Dutch government had been picking up the €2 million annual tab for her protection so long as she lived in the Netherlands, but wrapped up this support some time after Ms Hirsi Ali moved to the United States to take up a post with the neo-conservative thinktank the American Enterprise Institute.

She has since returned to Europe.

Some 100 MEPs earlier this month called on EU member states to pay for her policing needs.

The critic of Islam was first targetted after she collaborated with Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh on a short film about the abuse of women under Islam. The director was subsequently shot and had his throat slit by an Islamic extremist while bicycling to work in the east end of Amsterdam.

A note, attached to his body with a knife, threatened Jews, Western governments and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

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