NEW YORK, November 6, 2009: In a ceremony on November 4 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the Dutch flower bulb sector named a tulip after Ayaan Hirsi Ali‘Ayaan’in recognition of Ms. Hirsi Ali’s defense of freedom and human rights for Muslim women.
Ms. Hirsi Ali, a feminist, author, activist and former member of the Dutch parliament completed the traditional naming ceremony by drizzling champagne over the bulbs and declaring, “From now on this Tulip has the name ‘Ayaan’.” Mr. Thijs Leenders, president of the North American Flower Bulb Wholesalers Association represented the Dutch bulb sector in the event. Also in attendance was Mr. Wim Pijbes, director of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a native of Mogadishu, Somalia. She immigrated to the Netherlands in 1992 receiving political asylum. She studied political science at the University of Leiden, earning a Master of Arts degree. In 2003 she was elected a member of the Dutch parliament where she served until 2006. During her legislative tenure, she was very involved in the issues of assimilating non-Western immigrants into Dutch society. She has long been a vocal defender of the rights of Muslim women in Dutch society and around the world. In 2004, she teamed with Dutch film director Theo van Gogh to create the film Submission, a documentary on the treatment of women by conservative Islam. The film’s controversial nature angered many in Holland’s Islamic community. In 2004, Mr. van Gogh was murdered on an Amsterdam street by an avowed Islamic extremist. Ms. Hirsi Ali currently resides in the U.S. where she is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.
Tulipa ‘Ayaan’ is a dark maroon/brown/purple Triumph tulip hybridized by Ms. Lydia Boots, of Lybo Hybridizing, Hem, NL. Ms Boots is one of few women working in the male dominated world of tulip hybridizing. The hybrid is a crossing of Tulipa ‘Gavota’ x a sport of Tulipa ‘Gander’s Rhapsody’.
The new deep purple tulip joins a group of tulips known in Holland as “black” tulips. The legendary quest of Dutch hybridizers to create a truly black tulip goes back centuries. Many experts consider Tulipa ‘Ayaan’ one of the finest and most successful results of this quest. The selection of the flower to be named in her honor was made by Ms. Hirsi Ali herself.
Upon receipt of the signed christening certificate, the tulip will be entered into the Classified List and International Register of Tulip Names, maintained by the Royal Dutch Bulb Growers Association (KAVB) in Hillegom, the Netherlands.
Supplies of the Ayaan tulip will be limited for several years, as it takes many seasons to build up stocks of new tulips. It is estimated that only 500 bulbs will be available for sale and planting in the fall of 2010. Visitors to Amsterdam in spring of 2010 will be able to view and enjoy the new tulip in the park adjacent to the Rijksmuseum, where 100 bulbs were planted in October in celebration of the upcoming tulip naming.
(left to right): Tom Campbell (director Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York), Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Thijs Leenders (chairman NAFWA) and Wim Pijbes (director Rijksmuseum Amsterdam).