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Women's rights activist to be given full police protection

The EU has finally given Europe-wide police protection to Ayaan Hirsi Ali - and about time too.

Really, she should be given a medal.

Hirsi Ali, born a Somali Muslim, has suffered death threats since 2003 when she and her colleague Theo Van Gogh made Submission, a film that revealed the extend of violence against women within Islam.

Van Gogh was murdered in 2004 in Amsterdam (while he was cycling to work) and there are many extremists who would like to see Ali follow him. Van Gogh's murderer even left a declaration to that effect pinned to his victim's chest with a knife.

Ali has after all, commited the ultimate sin. She is an apostate - one who has lost her faith - which is punishable in Islam by death and nothing less.

Ali, who was forcibly circumcised as a child, escaped a forced marriage in Somalia for a freer life in Holland and eventually became a member of the Dutch parliament. But she was shamefully betrayed by her adopted country when she drew attention to the subjugation of Muslim women taking place in the Muslim ghettos of their own country. Not one to shy away from a difficult issue, she was outspoken and critical of liberal multi-culturalist attitudes that permitted the virtual enslavement of women and practices such as female genital mutilation within the heart of the European Union itself.

Now Franco Frattini, the European commissioner for justice and home affairs, has told the UK's Guardian newspaper that "Hirsi Ali and any other persons facing threats to their lives because of their opinions or writings, would be guaranteed protection wherever they went in Europe and that the host country would bear the expense".

Although no new laws were required to set up this agreement it's an important step and sends an important message to extremists - that the West values freedom of speech - including the freedom to offend.

We should be proud of Ali and women like her, who speak out on behalf of downtrodden women everywhere and face the prospect of death for simply daring to think differently. And perhaps finally we can be proud of the European Parliament.

Ali's books: Infidel, and The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam are available from the Second Cherry bookshops at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

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