OnIslam & News Agencies
Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00
ATHENS – A hijab-clad Greek woman has become the first ever Muslim candidate to represent her country at the coming European Parliament elections, hoping to prevent anti-Muslim discrimination and ensure equality for the religious minority.
"I have been nominated from the Eco Green Party Greece – the ecological political party that is a member of the European Green party – as it perfectly reflects my opinions," Anna Stamou, a former yoga teacher and now an activist politician, told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, May 7.
Nominated from Greece Green party, Stamou is the first veiled nominee in the European Parliament (EP) elections on May 25.
If elected, she would be the first EU parliament member to don the Islamic headscarf.
Being a graduate of business management and once a yoga trainer, her life as a politician started after reverting to Islam at the age of 30.
"I will exert all my efforts for ensuring that Muslims do not consider themselves as a minority in Greece," Stamou said.
Stamou says she was born an Orthodox Christian but "found the answers to her questions" in Islam after delving for years into all religions.
Leading a Muslim life since she embraced Islam, she is responsible for the public relations at the Muslim Association of Greece and is wife of the head of the Muslim Association also.
She now opts for politics after her "activist" years along with being a teacher.
Greek candidates will stand for 21 seats in the European Parliament during the European Election on 25 May, coinciding with the local elections in the country.
The number of seats allocated to Greece declined from 22 to 21, as a result of the 2013 reapportionment of seats in the European Parliament.
In the 2009 elections, the Ecologist Greens of Greece won only one seat at the EP after receiving 3.49 percent of the votes.
Equal Life for Muslims
Taking the career of politics, the veiled Muslims hopes to serve her country and guarantee equal life for the Muslim community.
"What drew me to politics is my objective of guaranteeing a life for Muslims in Greece with equal rights to those of other Greek citizens through all means," she says.
Donning a hijab, she said her nomination for an EP seat was part in the fight against any discrimination of people by their appearance.
Stamou added that every citizen should do something for their country.
"I will exert all my efforts for ensuring that Muslims do not consider themselves as a minority in Greece," she said.
“If I get elected for the EP, I will fight for equal right for Muslims and the prevention of discrimination against Muslims.”
Moreover, she asserted her plan to work towards recognizing Greek Muslims as citizens and fulfill the country’s responsibilities towards them.
A mosque in Athens, the only European capital without a mosque, was also a top priority.
"My message to the Greek Muslims is to actively participate in the EP voting process and enjoy their rights to elect and be elected without the fear of their voice falling on deaf ears," she added.
Muslims account for nearly 1.3 percent of Greece’s 10.7 million population.