Belgian Muslims try to find a political party compatible with their religious beliefs
Fatima Moussaoui is almost an oxymoron: an Islamic Social Christian. When the Moroccan-born Belgian entered politics in 1999, she joined the center-right Social Christians instead of the Socialists, the traditional home for Muslim immigrants seeking tolerance and economic integration. She thought the Social Christians were the only party able to tolerate an open declaration of faith. "I like to proclaim my religious beliefs loud and clear," she says. "That's something that other parties would not allow."
Now her party has changed its name to the more inclusive-sounding Center for Democratic Humanists (CDH), and Moussaoui has become its national secretary for integration policy as well as a parliamentary candidate, running as a family-values conservative against abortion, homosexual adoption and euthanasia, "ideas that both Islam and Christianity oppose." CDH officials admit that Moussaoui and the three other Muslims on their ticket have little chance of winning one of the 224 seats up for grabs in the May 18 federal elections, but hope to make inroads among the more conservative of the country's 400,000 Muslims.
While a recent poll showed that 50% of Muslims intend to vote Socialist, Social Christian parties are second with 12% and for each party running, a shift in the Muslim vote could tip the balance between power and opposition. Moussaoui's candidacy is at least a small step on the road to political integration. "Unfortunately, Islam still scares most Europeans," she says. "And it might take some time before that changes.
Next Father Knows Best