Belgium: Headscarf woman appointed to Equality Commission board

Belgium: Headscarf woman appointed to Equality Commission board


A veiled woman [ed: ie, with headscarf], Fatima Zibouh, is now on the board of the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (CGKR).  They was nominated by Ecolo (Greens) as a replacement.

Zibouh holds a diplomat for Political Science from the Universit√© Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and succeeds Zakia Khattabi, who has become a community senator.  Zibouh has been a researchers for the Centre for Ethnic and Migration Studies (CEDEM) at the Universtiy of Leuven since 2007.  "Fatima Zibouh was selected on the basis of her abilities," explained the party spokesperson, who said that no other considerations influenced the choice.

Senator Alain Destexhe (MR) announced he regrets Ecolo's decision of a veiled woman.  According to him, such a decision can't be reconciled with the neutrality requirements of a public service and the Greens are thereby contributing to strengthening religious elements in the public sphere. 

Polemicist Claude Demelenne accused her of having links to radical Muslims. 

Fatima Zibouh responded in surprise to the reactions which followed her appointment.  "My choice of clothing has absolutely nothing to do with my appointment," Zibouh says on the parlemento.com website.

"I don't know if everybody understands that the demographic configuration in Belgium and Brussels has changed.  It's simply normal that people who 'themselves are part of the diversity' should be able to reach certain levels."

She also denies that she signed a petition that asked to remove Hamas from the list of terrorist organization, as Demelenne accused her of doing.  Also the allegation that she is part of a racial Muslim organization is taken out of thin air.  "I'm not a member of a structured Muslim organization, it's more a think-tank which attempts to build bridges with non-Muslims. I have enough of the climate of insinuations in which it's assumed that every Muslim organization is a sleeper terrorism cell," she concludes.

The parliamentary fraction leader of Ecolo, Murier Gerkens, earlier condemned the statements made about Zibouh.  She repeated that her party nominated Zibouh on the basis of her capabilities and nothing else.

Sources: HLN 1, 2 (Dutch)

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