Muslim Roma woman from Greece fails with EP bid

Sabiha Suleiman, a Muslim Roma activist from the Drosero settlement in the country's western Thrace region, was due to run for a seat in the European parliament for the center-left Syriza party.

Muslim Roma woman from Greece fails with EP bid

World Bulletin / News Desk

A Muslim Roma woman from Greece has been forced to back off from running as a candidate for the European Parliamentary elections.

Sabiha Suleiman, a Muslim Roma activist from the Drosero settlement in the country's western Thrace region, was due to run for a seat in the European parliament for the center-left Syriza party.

However, according to a report by Menelaos Tzafalias in Al Jazeera, her status as a member of a 'minority within a minority within another minority' prevented her from gaining enough support to launch a campaign.

The report pointed out that she had been on the receiving end of a number of smear campaigns from different angles. For instance, Syriza supporters accused her of receiving funding from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and right-wing circles.

Fellow party member and co-runner Dimitris Christopoulos led the campaign against her, claiming that her candidacy would aggrivate nationalist sentiments in the region.

Suleiman blamed these accusations on the Turkish consulate in western Thrace, who she said did not support her because of her identifying herself as a Muslim Roma.

These developments led some media outlets such as MacroPolis then accused Syriza of yielding to the interests of Turkey because Suleiman encouraged preferred Roma children to attend Greek rather than Turkish schools.

Another candidate from the Eastern Macedonia region, Ahmet Kurt, was also forced to quit when he was seen meeting with Turkey's right-wing National Movement Party's Devlet Bahceli.

Although Greece identifies the Muslim minority living in western Thrace as 'Greek Muslims', most Muslims in the region, which is a community comprised of Turks, Pomaks and Roma, choose to identify themselves as Turkish Muslims.

With the support of Turkey, the Muslim community in Greece's western Thrace has even launched a Turkish party and elected Turkish lawmakers into the Greek parliament.

Suleiman, however, claims that her identifying herself as a Roma instead of a Turk and running with Syriza instead of the Turkish party left her isolated.

Last Mod: 05 Mayıs 2014, 16:20
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