Four Danish Muslims of immigrant roots, including two women, won seats in the new Danish parliament, one seat more than what Muslims had in the outgoing legislature. Naser Khader, the leader of the nascent New Alliance party, kept his seat in the 179-member parliament. Khader, 44, came to Denmark when he was 11 and enjoys a pop star status and political charisma. His party won five seats in the closely-fought elections held on November 12. Kamal Qureshi also kept his seat in the single-chamber parliament for another four-year term. The Pakistani-born doctor is the health and gender-equality spokesman of the Socialist People’s party. Qureshi, 37, is also the party’s representative in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The opposition Social Democrats-led coalition won 81 seats in the elections while Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s Liberal-Conservative bloc and its far-right ally, the Danish People’s Party (DPP), garnered 90. Under Danish laws, immigrants who have spent more than three years in the Scandinavian country are entitled to casting ballot and contest in local and national elections. The results also showed that two Muslims became the first women of immigrant background ever to enter Folketinget, the parliament. Oezlam Sara Cekic, a 31-year-old nurse from Turkish background, won a seat for the opposition Socialist People’s Party. Yildiz Akdogan, another women of Turkish origin, also won a seat. Akdogan, a 34-year-old consultant, ran on the Social Democrats slate. Twenty-seven candidates of immigrant origin, 23 of whom Muslims, contested the polls. They included eight women of immigrant roots. One of those who did not make it to parliament was Asmaa Abdol-Hamid of the leftist Unity List. The 25-year-old would have been the first hijab-wearing MP in the history of the Nordic country. Abdol-Hamid, of Palestinian background, is the target of ferocious smear campaigns from the far-rightists over her hijab.
Ahead of the polls, the far-right DPP stepped up its anti-immigrants campaign with electioneering posters antagonizing Muslims, who make up the largest immigrant minority in the European country. The party, the third-largest political force in Denmark, recently put forward a string of draft laws calling for a ban on hijab in public places and denying Muslims special worship areas in the workplace.