Belgian Kurd becomes Federal Secretary, Turkey outraged


Zuhal Demir was named as Belgian Secretary of State. In this file photo, Demir delivers a speech at the Belgian Parliament.

ARA News

The Flemish nationalist MP Zuhal Demir, a Kurd born in Belgium, was sworn in as the new Secretary of State (Junior Minister) of Belgium.

She took over the job of her colleague Elke Sleurs and became the new Secretary of State for Equal Rights, Disabled Persons, Scientific Policy, Urban Policy and fighting Poverty.

“We congratulate Zuhal Demir on her appointment as Secretary of State,” Falah Mustafa, the head of foreign affairs of the Kurdistan Region said on Saturday.

Demir, 36, was born in the Limburg city of Genk. Her parents immigrated to Genk from the Kurdish town of Dersim in Turkey.

From January 2013 to the end of 2015, Zuhal Demir was District Mayor in the central district of Antwerp. She left the post to return to her hometown of Genk.

The Turkish media responded negatively to the appointment, calling it a scandal, accusing her of attending a meeting of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Belgium.

However, Demir says she is a pacifist and has no sympathy for the PKK.

“Just because you have Kurdish roots, it doesn’t mean you are supporting the PKK. On the contrary, violence can never be a solution,” she said.

Earlier a picture was shown of Demir attending a meeting with a PKK flag and a portrait of the imprisoned PKK-leader Abdullah Ocalan.

“I have never attended a PKK-meeting, but a meeting of a cultural Kudish association in Antwerpen. For years, I plead for a peaceful solution for the Kurds in Turkey. I am sick and tired of these suspicions,” she said.

Earlier the Turkish media posted a picture claiming that Demir was a female fighter of the PKK, but she denies this. “I am not the woman on the picture of the Kurdish fighters. They did this on purpose to frame me,” she said, threatening to take legal action.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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