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Controversy Erupts in Belgium over Parliament Member's Decision to Wear a Headscarf

Published: 21/01/2012 03:13:57 PM GMT
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21 January 2012 Layla Azzouzi, delegate to the centrist party CDH CPAS (Public Centre for Social Action) for the city of Verviers i (more)

21 January 2012

Layla Azzouzi, delegate to the centrist party CDH CPAS (Public Centre for Social Action) for the city of Verviers in Belgium, decided recently to wear the headscarf. Members of the rival Reform Movement Party reacted negatively to the personal choice of this delegate.

Layla Azzouzi responds with a calm and serene tone to their media attacks. She denounced the "provocative and populist approach" of the Reform Movement Party on the eve of elections. She played the humor card and said that had she changed her hair color or shaved her hair off, there would have been less talk!

"It's true that I did not wear the veil before, but I do not want my choice to be misinterpreted or be manipulated. This choice stems from personal reasons, that did not take place overnight and demanded considerable time for reflection. I am surprised at this sudden interest, especially as it is anyway just a piece of fabric that will no change everything. I am exactly the same person, with the same values​​, always listening to others, etc.. The first time I ran with my headscarf, it has also been a problem for my colleagues. "

Azzouzi is fully supported by her party. Marc Elsen -- CDH group leader in Parliament of the Federation Wallonia-Brusselsand Group Leader in CDH City Council of Verviers -- came to Azzouzi's defense. "Only the work of the elected official matters, regardless of whether or not she wears a scarf on her head," he said in the Meuse Belgian daily. He added that Belgium is a neutral country, and as such Layla Azzouzi remains free to wear her "hair" as she wishes.

Semsettin Ugurlu, president of the Muslim Executive of Belgium, invoked the freedom to practice religion in Belgium: "We are in a democratic country and every citizen is free to act." For him, the fact that the political stakes are so high for the headscarf issue is absurd, compared to all much more urgent problems that need to be solved today.

The Reform Movement Party expressed concern with what it deems "inappropriate behavior within the vision of a secular society." It follows the widely publicised press release issued by the Reform Movement Party on Tuesday entitled "Soon to be veiled, an elected municipal council of the HRC in Verviers?!? "

France seems to have influenced its neighbor Belgium in relating to secularism. generally, extremely right-wing parties are Islamophobic, however in France, we find that from the extreme left to extreme right, anti-Islamic sentiment is expanding. This trend seems to be moving into Belgium.

Verviers, which Azzouzi represents, is approximately 15% Muslim. Benyekhlef Fouad, director of the Progressive Muslims Collective, points the finger at Freddy Breuwer, a former socialist who is now with the Reform Movement Party. "He now spits on Muslims", Fouad accuses, "solely for purposes of getting elected. He raises the fear of the citizens of Verviers into believing there is a potential for the Islamization of the region if they do not act." The CMP has decided to complain to the Centre for Equal Opportunities face "the serious right-wing terminology."


"Belgique : polémique autour d'une élue qui décide de porter le hijab" Ajib January 20 2012

"Polémique autour du voile d'une élue cdH au CPAS de Verviers" RTBF Info January 19, 2012

"Belgique : Polémique autour du voile d'une conseillère de l'action sociale belgo-marocaine" Yabiladi January 19, 2012

Reproduced with permission from Islam Today