Brussels, (Brussels Morning)- Brussels Vooruit party member Mohamed Abdulhakim speaks openly this Friday against the statements of his party chairman Conner Rousseau, who “in Molenbeek does not feel in Belgium”. “I don’t think Rousseau is a racist, but he does try to placate racists,” Abdulhakim said.
Mohamed Abdulhakim shares his concerns on Friday in an opinion piece in De Morgen and an interview with Knack . As a person with a migration background, he wonders whether he can still feel at home at Vooruit. He confirms his doubts to BRUZZ . “I don’t think that statement was about Molenbeek at all,” says Abdulhakim. “Experts are now talking about Brussels bashing, but if he doesn’t feel in Belgium seeing people of color, he could just as well be talking about the Turnhoutsebaan in Antwerp or another urban neighborhood in Flanders.”
Abdulhakim has been a member of one.brussels, the Brussels division of Vooruit, since 2019. He is not a member of the Brussels city council or parliament. The Gentenaar ended up here after his medical studies for a psychiatry internship at the Brugmann hospital. He lives in Brussels City.
“Conner and his team clearly didn’t realise that that statement really does affect people. Or they realised it and did it anyway, which is worse,” says Abdulhakim. Does Rousseau think he is a racist? “I don’t think so, but he does try to placate racists. It’s a cynical electoral strategy. Forward will have to make it clear which direction they want to go. If that means making strong statements or collaborating with the N-VA, members may drop out.”
Abdulhakim himself keeps it to “think about” his party card for the time being. He also only gives his response a week after Rousseau’s statements. “I know that other young party members definitely didn’t agree, but saw no criticism from people who can change something with their vote. I had hoped that people like Mohamed Ridouani (mayor of Leuven, ed.) or Meryame Kitir (federal secretary of state, ed.) would speak out, but that has not happened,” says Abdulhakim.
In Brussels he was satisfied with the “quick and correct response” of Molenbeek’s Vooruit alderman Jef Van Damme, who called the statements “ very misplaced “. Brussels Vooruit ships Ans Persoons also responded quickly. “The Brussels faction is perhaps a bit alone within the party,” Abdulhakim thinks. In order to continue to play a role as a progressive party in the cities, Abdulhakim is looking forward to collaborating with the other left-wing parties. “That will be more important than working with the N-VA,” he says. “There is already excellent cooperation with the PS in the City of Brussels. But I think Conner Rousseau is not very concerned with Brussels.”
Visit to Molenbeek
The Brussels Vooruit faction is less outspoken than a week ago. At that time , Brussels party leader Fouad Ahidar and Molenbeek ‘s education alderman Jef Van Damme invited their party chairman Rousseau for a visit to Molenbeek . Rousseau’s cabinet reported to BRUZZ on Wednesday “that Conner regularly goes to Molenbeek, but does not need to be accompanied for that”.
Ahidar declined to comment this week on the visit he had announced. Saliha Raiss, Vooruit councilor in Molenbeek, said that “Rousseau is always welcome, but we don’t have to organize a tour for that”. By the way, Rousseau will come to the Maritime Station of Thurn en Taxis this weekend, just next to the Molenbeek Maritime District, to visit the Brussels Padel Open.