ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Three Kurds from different parties and provinces have registered their names to compete with other candidates running in Belgium's upcoming elections. Belgians will take to the polls on Sunday to vote for their next provincial, municipal, and district representatives.
The first of the three Kurdish candidates is Aran Bahrami-Kamangar, a member of the Reformist Movement (MR) who is in the running for the Municipal Council of Brussels.
Bahrami was born in Kermanshah, Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat) and she has been living in Brussels for the past 15 years. She is the first Kurdish candidate to run in the local elections.
“As a Kurdish woman, I will do all I can to serve the city of Brussels. I will also do for the Kurds all I can,” Bahrami said to Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday.
“We, as the Kurdish community of Brussels, are proud to have a Kurd among the candidates,” said Hemin Karimi, a resident of the capital city originally from the Kurdistan Region, also told Kurdistan 24. “I call on all the Kurds of Brussels to vote for Aran.”
Samad Gul, a member of the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) Party, is in the running for the municipal council of the city of Leuven, Flemish Brabant. He was born in the Kurdistan Region's city of Zakho and has been living in Leuven for the past 17 years.
“I would like to do more for our residents with a migration background, by which I mean, to bring them in contact with the people of Leuven, so that they can adapt better and we can learn from each other, which is why I stand for diversity!” reads Guli’s official page on the CD&V website.
The last candidate is Shahla Bagheri, who is in the running for the city council of Aalst, East Flanders as part of the New Flemish Alliance (NVA). She is from the Hawraman area of the Kurdistan Region and Rojhilat.
Bagheri says she wants to promote, especially to newcomers in the country, Western Enlightenment values. Among others, she mentioned the separation of church and state, equality of the sexes, individual liberty, and freedom of expression.
As per electoral regulations in Belgium, voting is compulsory for all citizens above the age of 18. Those who fail to show up without a proper justification or having appointed a proxy are subject to a moderate fine or legal action, with increased fines for repeat offenders.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Barzan Hassan)