The next local elections in Milan, particularly the lists of the Left, could be considered as a paradigmatic example of the schizophrenia reigning in parties and institutions when it comes to choosing "Muslims" candidates. In Milan two names stand out, namely Maryan Ismail and Sumaya Abdel Qader, who represent two worlds apart: the former is a staunch Muslim activist against all forms of radical Islam, the latter represents political and social activism in the name of the ideology and strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe.
Maryan is not veiled, Sumaya is. However, Abdel Qader’s veil goes far beyond her colourful head cover. The official biography of Abdel Qader highlights that she was born in Perugia, Italy, on 16/06/1978 from Jordanian-Palestinian parents, that she earned a degree in biology and another one in foreign languages and cultures. She also has a master’s degree in sociology. She collaborates with Italian universities and schools giving talks, lectures and courses on Islam, the Arab-Islamic world, European Muslims, that she is one of the founders of GMI (Giovani Musulmani d’Italia, Young Muslims of Italy), where she has held the post of Secretary General and Vice President. In September 2008 she published an autobiographical book I wear the veil and love the Queen. Since 2011 she has been cooperating with the City of Milan at the table for new citizenship of the Department for social policies. She is also in charge of the cultural section of CAIM (Coordination of Islamic Organizations in Milan and Monza and Brianza), led by Davide Piccardo who is, among other things, one of the Italian members of the European Muslim Network in Brussels headed by Tariq Ramadan.
As CAIM member she has recently launched in Milan the campaign AISHA against violence on women.
Strangely enough, but not so much, Abdel Qader avoids to indicate in her official biography and presentations her most prestigious appointment: Head of FIOE (Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe) Youth and Student Department. FIOE is the main umbrella organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. Besides this, she is also a member of the Board of Trustees of FEMYSO (Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations) based in Brussels, which is the junior counterpart of FIOE. Giovani Musulmani d’Italia is a member of FEMYSO. In September 2015, at the 19th General Assembly of FEMYSO - that took place at the headquarters of the controversial Turkish organization Milli Gorus in Cologne – Abdel Qader was honoured with an award for her activities. She is also member of the board of the European Forum of Muslim Women (EFOMW) in Brussels together with her mother-in-law.
In order to follow the international activities of FIOE Sumaya recently went to Finland, Turkey, Malaysia showing that Milan and Italy are just a small part of a microcosm of a much larger project.
Last, but not least she is the daughter of Mohammed Abdel Qader, Palestinian co-founder of Unione degli studenti musulmani in Italia (Union of Muslim Students in Italy, USMI) and the Unione delle Comunità e delle Organizzazioni Islamiche in Italia (Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy, UCOII) and Imam of Perugia, central Italy. She is married with Abdallah Kabakebbji, former President of GMI) and son of MB leader Maher Kabakebbji.
But the main question that should be answered is the following: why is she casting a veil on her European appointments at the highest levels of the European Brotherhood and trying to hide her ties with the European spinoffs of the Muslim Brotherhood?
Valentina Colombo’s research focuses on democratisation in the Middle East and North Africa. She is particularly focused on liberal intellectuals in the region and the role of women in politics. Valentina teaches geopolitics in the Islamic world at the European University in Rome. Valentina has a PhD in islamic Studies and has previously taught Islamic Studies and Arabic language and literature at Bologna University. She regularly appears in Italian media as well as in international press. She has published books including “Christianity in the Arab World” (2013), “Forbidden in the name of Allah” (2010) and “Islam: Instructions for use” (2009).