Antwerp: Municipal veil ban drawing protest

Antwerp mayor Patrick Janssens does not want to comment on the poster campaign that BOEH! (Boss of your own head, Baas Over Eigen Hoofd) launched yesterday to protest the city dresscode. "The mayor will meet several times in the upcoming weeks with several action groups. In order not to mortgage those meetings, he prefers not to comment," says Kiki Vervloessem, mayor Janssens' spokesperson.

BOEH!'s campaign includes posters with 21 faces of famous Flemish who protest against the veil ban on counter clerks. The campaign references the portrait campaign that Janssens launched during the municipal elections. Several of the people who appeared on Janssens' campaign appear in the BOEH! campaign as well.

Meanwhile, there are troubles in Janssens' own party, the sp.a (socialist party). 

Najat Assissi, district councilor in Deurne quit that party and will continue to serve as independent.  Assissi made the decision due to dissatisfaction with the dress code that the city council introduced two months ago.  "A discriminatory regulation that I don't support," she explains.

Assissi, employed by the Federation of Moroccan Associations, entered politics since she considered the interests of the immigrant community to be very important.  "During the municipality elections I came out with the slogan: with or without a veil, it's not about the look.  That party had approved my slogan.  Now I feel, just as my supporters, that I've been tricked."

Quitting is the only possibility for her to represent her supporters.  "Starting May 25th I'll sit as independent.  I'll loyally continue to respect and support the council agreement of Deurne."

Fellow party member Anissa Temsamani, a Flemish parliament member, wants Janssens to cancel the veil ban.  She is the first national party member who goes in against the Janssens line.  Temsamani says she represents a bigger group within her party.

"Patrick Janssens drastically underestimated the polarization that this regulation causes," she says.  She think the revocation of the dresscode is the only way to end the polarization.  "I realize that in politics it is difficult to admit errors.   But it is the best decision for Antwerp."

Sources: HLN 1, 2, 3 (Dutch), BOEH! (Dutch)

See also: Antwerp: Protest against veil ban

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