THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Ayaan Hirsi Ali (search), the Somali-born Dutch politician who went underground after the slaying of filmmaker Theo van Gogh (search) last year, returned to her office in parliament Tuesday amid tight security after 10 weeks on a U.S. Marine base in Maine.
Hirsi Ali wrote the script for Van Gogh's short television film "Submission" — the last of his work to be aired before Van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death on Nov. 2 — which sharply criticized the treatment of women under Islam.
Van Gogh was murdered on an Amsterdam street while cycling to work. An "Open Letter to Hirsi Ali," fixed to his chest with a knife, warned of "a day of torture and agony" and accused the lawmaker of leading a crusade against Islam.
Prosecutors recently said they uncovered evidence of a plot by terrorism suspects to kill her on New Year's Eve.
On her return, Hirsi Ali was escorted through the building by a group of security guards — an unusual sight in a country where ministers felt safe enough to bicycle to work until recently — and was welcomed by parliament chairman Frans Weisglas.
After their meeting, Weisglas told reporters "something has to be wrong in our country if a politician needs constant protection."
Despite the threats, Hirsi Ali has said she will not be intimidated and vows to produce a sequel to the Van Gogh collaboration.
"She is a resilient woman and I admire the determination with which she returns," Weisglas said.
Later Tuesday, Hirsi Ali will take up her seat on the floor of Parliament after being welcomed back by the speaker of her Liberal Party, Jozias van Aartsen. Hirsi Ali, whose portfolio includes immigration and women's emancipation, will attend a party meeting and hold a news conference.
Mohammed Bouyeri (search), the only suspect in Van Gogh's murder, has been charged with terrorism and impeding the work of a member of parliament, a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment. The first public hearing in his case is scheduled for Jan. 26.
In the weeks following Van Gogh's murder, authorities rounded up suspects of Muslim extremism across the country, some of whom are believed to have had ties with Van Gogh's killer and allegedly plotted attacks against other politicians.
Some 12 suspects, mostly of North African descent, will face terrorism charges when they go on trial in February.
Hirsi Ali, 35, escaped a forced marriage in Somalia as a young girl and fled to the Netherlands where she later became an interpreter for asylum seekers.
A former refugee who describes herself as a "lapsed" Muslim, she campaigned against Muslims who reject Dutch values such as gender equality and gay rights. She outraged the Muslim community by saying the Prophet Muhammad was a tyrant by today's standards, and by urging women to abandon their traditional veils or head scarfs.
Hirsi Ali proposed "Submission" to Van Gogh as part of her mission to emancipate Muslim women. It tells the fictional stories of four Muslim women who are beaten and sexually abused by their own relatives, allegedly "in the name of Islam." They are whipped and texts from the Quran have been scrawled across their partially naked bodies.