Belgian first as woman deputy sworn in wearing veil

24th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

A Belgian lawmaker of Turkish origin was sworn in at the Brussels regional parliament Tuesday wearing an Islamic headscarf, in a first for the kingdom.

BRUSSELS - "I swear to respect the constitution," 26-year-old Mahinur Ozdemir said, her hand raised, to applause and a rain of camera flashes, as she was sworn in. She won her seat in local elections on June 7.

Members of her family and a strong contingent of Turkish media attended.

Ozdemir, dressed in a beige dress with a headscarf marked by turquoise coloured squares, smiled broadly in response and flashed a discreet V sign to her family.

Ozdemir later told reporters that she "does not want to be the representative of a community, but of all the people of Brussels," and said that "the veil has in no way slowed me down."

Opponents of wearing the veil in public distributed flyers at the entry to the parliament building, but they did not disturb proceedings inside.


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