Zuhal Demir

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Zuhal Demir
Secretary of State for Poverty Reduction, Equal Opportunities, People with Disabilities, Urban Policy and Scientific Policy
Assumed office
24 February 2017
Prime MinisterCharles Michel
Preceded byElke Sleurs
Member of the Chamber of Representatives
In office
6 July 2010 – 24 February 2017
Personal details
Born (1980-03-02) 2 March 1980 (age 39)
Genk, Limburg
Political partyN-VA

Zuhal Demir (born 2 March 1980 in Genk) is a Belgian lawyer and politician affiliated to the N-VA. Demir was elected as a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives in 2010.[2] She is currently Secretary of State for Poverty Reduction in the Belgian Government.

She is the daughter of Alevi Kurdish parents from Turkey[3][4][5] and lives in Antwerp. She studied Law at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in 1998–2003, and went on in 2003–2004 with a Master in Social Law at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Since 2004, she has worked as a lawyer for an international law firm.[3][6]

From January 2013 until the end of 2015, she was the mayor of the district of Antwerp. In early 2016, she moved to Genk.

In February 2017, she succeeded Elke Sleurs as Secretary of State for Poverty Reduction, Equal Opportunities, People with Disabilities, Urban Policy and Scientific Policy.[7] She has also chaired the Flemish government's integration strategy.[8]

Demir has been given the nickname 'Iron Lady', partly because demir is the Turkish word for iron, and partly due to her advocacy for limiting the duration of unemployment benefits to encourage people back to work.[8]

In 2017, she was accused by the Turkish press of supporting terrorism and of being a member of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).[9][10][11]

Demir has received death threats as a result of her opposition to Turkey's treatment of its Kurdish population. In 2017 a man was sentenced to 6 months in prison for making threats against her.[8] On 6 December 2018, the correctional court of Hasselt sentenced a man from Beringen with a fine of 400 Euros for threatening Zuhal Demir on Facebook.[12] Hatice Kör, a candidate with Turkish heritage from the Be.one party (founded in February 2018 par Dyab Abou Jahjah), of being a terrorist and a supporter of the PKK.[13]


  1. ^ "Belgian Kurd minister renounces Turkish citizenship". Kurdistan 24. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Chamber of Representatives: cv Zuhal Demir (Dutch)".
  3. ^ a b "Ledenmagazine" (PDF). n-va.be (in Dutch). June 2010. p. 5.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 June 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Li Belçîkayê jineke kurd bû wezîra hikûmetê". Sputnik News. 25 February 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Over Zuhal". zuhaldemir.be.
  7. ^ "Press service of Zuhal Demir, State secretary for Combating Poverty, for Equal Opportunities, for Disabled People and for Science Policy, in charge of Larger Towns, attached to the Minister of Security and Home Affairs | Presscenter.org". www.presscenter.org. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "Zuhal Demir named new secretary of state for equal opportunities | Flanders Today". www.flanderstoday.eu. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Zuhal Demir ciblée par la presse turque: "accusations subversives", rétorque Charles Michel". RTBF Info (in French). 20 March 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Charles Michel défend énergiquement Zuhal Demir". L'Echo (in French). 21 March 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  11. ^ Libre.be, La. "Charles Michel défend Zuhal Demir, attaquée par la presse turque". www.lalibre.be (in French). Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Man (37) krijgt 400 euro boete voor bedreigen Zuhal Demir via Facebook". Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  13. ^ "Zuhal Demir et sa fille de six mois menacées de mort". Le Soir (in French). Retrieved 22 March 2019.