Mother of IS fighter is candidate for the local elections

Fatima Ezzarhouni is a candidate for the Christian democrats in the forthcoming municipal elections in Antwerp. Just over 5 year ago her son left for Syria, he said to help the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group fighting the Assad regime. However, once in Syria he joined the Salafist group Al Nursa before joining the terrorist organisation Islamic State.

Ms Ezzarhouni has had no contact with her son for 3 years. A few weeks ago she heard from what she says is a reliable source that he is dead.

"I cried all night. Then I felt a sense of guilt as a mother. However, now I can start to find peace and begin to mourn”, Ms Ezzarhouni to VRT Radio 2 Antwerp.

Fatima Ezzarhouni is involved in deradicalisation project and she gives lectures on deradicalisation. He decision to enter politics is not solely related to what has happened to her son.

"I have not entered politics just because of what has happened to me, but it is my most important point. Through the party I can carry out prevention campaigns and that is important”.  

Ms Ezzarhouni says that she is currently giving a lot of attention to the issue of the children of jihadi.  

"I have a grandchild myself that I have never seen. The last I heard was that mother and child were in Idlib. Like every grandmother I would like to see my grandchild. The children didn’t choose to be there. However, I have faith that Minister Geens (the Justice Minister) will find a humane solution”, Ms Ezzarhouni.  

Ms Ezzarhouni is one of many candidates with either mixed or non-Belgian roots. She says that that her being a Muslim in a Catholic party isn’t an issue. "Everyone is welcome in the party. It is all about living together. I feel good as part of the party”.