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News in English 15.10.2007 kl. 10:00

Hirsi Ali offered refuge in Denmark

The culture minister has made a public offer of asylum to persecuted Dutch-Somali author Hirsi Ali

Brian Mikkelsen, the Danish culture minister, has indicated the government would be willing to allow outspoken Dutch-Somali author Ayaan Hirsi Ali to live in Denmark under its protection from fanatical Muslims seeking to kill her.

Over the weekend Mikkelsen sent out a request to the country’s municipalities to invite the threatened author and filmmaker to live here. The move is supported by a recent parliament proposal to establish several ‘free cities’ for persecuted writers, a programme to be created with the support of the International City of Refuge Network.

‘Ayaan Hirsi Ali will be number one on the list of authors we should invite to Denmark,’ Mikkelsen announced on Sunday. ‘She has fought for the freedom of expression and has personally received threats on her life.’

Ali became targeted by the fundamental Muslim community in 2004 after she wrote the manuscript to the short film ‘Submission’, whose message strongly criticised the treatment of women living under Islamic fundamentalism. The film’s Dutch director, Theo van Gogh, was murdered by a Muslim fanatic after the film’s release.

Ali had been under Dutch protection until last week, but the Netherlands' parliament withdrew her official protected status because she has been living in the United States.

Mikkelsen said the government would be willing to pay all the expenses relating to Ali’s residence in Denmark.

‘It’s obvious the protection of Hirsi Ali would be a substantial expense,’ he said. ‘But we have to view that from a positive standpoint.’

Mikkelsen’s invitation is expected to receive broad backing from parliament members.

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