Sunday 10 May 2009

Veiled women in Danish Council meeting

“A historical day,” that’s how the Danish media described the day when Asmaa Abd El-Hamid, a 27 Danish Muslim veiled politician of a Palestinian origin, attended a council meeting as a substitute for a member of the Unity List. It was the first time in Odense, the third biggest Danish city where she attended the meeting, and in the whole Danish history that witnesses a veiled woman taking part in a Local Council meeting.

Ms. Abd El-Hamid told (IOL)’s European Muslims Page that she is intending to put forward the social, economical, and international issues in the coming meetings as they are placed at the top of her agenda. By holding this position she is planning to discuss her main issues, such as the social equality between Muslims and Non-Muslims in both education and recruitment, the recognition of the independent Palestinian state, and the rejection of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Asmaa has a lot of creative social and political ideas which she aspires to work on. Although Ms. Abd El-Hamid regards this step as "unprecedented," she is not only aiming at the veil’s existence in the parliament or in the political field. She also insists that she has been elected for this position "by both Muslims and non Muslims votes."

The non-Muslims' reactions were very considerate, as Mads Graven Larsen, the communication-director of the Mayor of Odense, told IOL that he fully agrees to this step— Asmaa’s substituting, “such a step would enhance the integration process of Muslims in Denmark."

“All the parties of the parliament reacted positively towards Asmaa's replacement including the right-wing parties.”

Meta Fuglsan, a member of the Danish Parliament, also believes that the existence of the veil in the Danish political scene is showing the multicultural aspect of the society and by reflecting the Danish respectful attitudes towards Muslims.

Fuglsan, who also works as the spokesperson of the integration issues in the governmental party Venstre, accepts the presence of the veil and considers it as a step forward towards the integration and coexistence processes.

On the other hand, Ms. Abd El-Hameid thinks that while many non-Muslims are generally supporting her new position, others are not. "Normally, that’s how it goes in most of the cases."

Esma has been in news previously when she was criticised for speaking against the Jyllands-Posten cartoons on prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

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