By Yusuf Hatip
BRUSSELS (AA) – More than 100 Turkish-origin Belgians have entered their candidacy for local elections on Sunday.
In areas such as the East Flemish city of Ghent and municipalities Schaerbeek and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, candidates from roughly 230,000-strong Turkish-origin community are running campaigns on education, housing and unemployment.
Emir Kir, Socialist Party mayor of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, who is seeking a reelection, spoke to Anadolu Agency about his previous services to ensure a safer, cleaner and more liveable neighborhood.
Rejecting "control and punishment" as policies to achieve these aims, Kir said he would prioritize “education, culture and sports” to support the municipality’s youth.
“If you live among people, share what they eat and drink, you will better understand them,” he said.
Kir advised young people “to be close to everybody”, refrain from passing judgment on others and practise compassion.
“To those youths who would enter politics, I would urge them to remember that this is a mission and needs work every day.”
Meryem Kacar, former Green Party MP and founding member of the Be.one party, is also among the Turkish-origin candidates.
Kacar, a lawyer by profession and former member of the Ghent city council, said the party currently had 25 candidates in the list for the city of Ghent including university professors and students.
Identifying education, racism and social housing as primary concerns of her party, Kacar said that the headscarf ban was among the most pressing issues faced by the Muslim community in Ghent.
“There is a policy of suppression on the Muslim identity. We must put a stop to this,” she said.
There are currently over eight million voters registered to cast their ballots in the local elections to be held on Oct. 14.
The elections are held once every six years across 10 regions and 581 municipalities to elect roughly 13,000 city councilors who will go on to elect the mayors.