Author and Former Dutch Lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali Seeks French Nationality

Former Dutch lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the target of death threats over criticism of radical Islam, said Sunday she has asked France to grant her citizenship because she cannot be assured of protection back home.

"I would be very honored and grateful if I were to become a French citizen, and the question of my protection could be resolved once and for all," Somali-born Hirsi Ali said on France-2 television.

A prominent critic of Islam, Hirsi Ali wrote the screenplay of the film "Submission," a fictional study of abused Muslim women with scenes of near-naked women with Quranic texts engraved on their flesh.

The film's director, Theo van Gogh, was killed by a Muslim extremist in Amsterdam in 2004. Hirsi Ali was threatened in a note left on his body. She now lives in the United States, guarded day and night.

"I live under protection now, but it's a protection in which I still have to move from place to place, and look for donors to pay for my protection," she said in English, simultaneously translated into French for the program.

She said she had chosen France because she received support from French intellectuals, and expressions of understanding from French political leaders.

Since last October, "I've found myself in the position in which my own government — the government of the Netherlands — has said it doesn't want to pay for my protection," Hirsi Ali said.

"The American government said: 'You are a Dutch citizen,' and that it doesn't pay for the protection of foreigners," she said.

Hirsi Ali, a former right-leaning member of the Dutch parliament, resigned her seat and left the Netherlands in 2006 after its immigration minister threatened to revoke her passport: Hirsi Ali had lied about her real name when she arrived as a refugee 14 years earlier.

French Human Rights Minister Rama Yade, also on the France-2 news program, said: "We believe in France that Ayaan Hirsi Ali must be protected," but stopped short of offering citizenship.

France wants to create a European Union-wide fund that could help provide security for anyone subject to religiously motivated threats like the "fatwa" faced by Hirsi Ali, Yade said.