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Who. He is the former Secretary of State for Immigration and Asylum of Belgium and since last year the young president of the CD&V, the Flemish Christian Democratic party.
What. Last week he participated (and swept) in 'Make up your mind', a contest on Dutch-language television in which personalities from all walks of life act as 'drag queens', without revealing their identity, dancing with platform shoes of up to 20 centimeters.
The assessment of the president of the jury, Vanessa Van Cartier, surprised and enthusiastic, was very clear: "You were born for this, baby". The response of the budding artist, equally heartfelt: "Yeah, baby". Without a doubt, the natural talent was there. Sammy Mahdi had never climbed into high-heeled shoes and could barely get up from the couch. And in an instant and as if nothing, it advanced on a set, swayed, turned with grace, elegance and a lot of rhythm from platforms of 20 centimeters. From a rip orange, ready to raze. The image, extraordinary in the visual, would have nothing special if it were not for the fact that the aspirant to prevail in Make up your mind, a program of the VTM chain, is nothing less than the president of the CD&V party, the Flemish Christian Democratic Party.
The show is an ingenious play on words, because in English it means decide, but it also refers to makeup. The transformation of the politician was incredible and the name chosen, Cindy Envy, a genius, because read aloud sounds almost exactly like the acronym of his political force. Mahdi was charming, relaxed, loose, smiling. Perfectly integrated into the dynamics, taking advantage of his undeniable communication skills in front of the camera.
Flemish society, not the most progressive on the planet, has had some trouble accepting their participation. They believe that it is not serious, that a politician should not lend himself to such things and that he ignores traditional values. But his answer is blunt: "Drag queen shows are banned in Tennessee, in the United States. In Italy they are banned on television. Many of the rights we enjoy in Belgium we take for granted, but we should not. We must continue the fight by all means, because today it can be drag shows and tomorrow maybe gay marriage. We have to keep fighting and if I can do it with 20cm heels, I do it with pleasure," he said to cheers when his identity was revealed.
Sammy Mahdi (34), son of a Flemish woman and an Iraqi, has a degree in political science. He was responsible for the party's Youth and Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration. In June 2022 he won with 97% of the votes in the congress that his party held in an amusement park and changed his life.
The goal is to modernize and reach out to a younger voter. The polls forced the resignation of his predecessor. And in chain they forced Mahdi to leave the post in the Government to focus on internal management. Many thought that strategically it was not the best. Flanders has been moving to the right, and polls put the far-right Vlaams Belang (whose predecessor was outlawed and which until recently suffered from a cordon sanitaire) in the lead. Migration is the big issue and the now winner of television contests was characterized in the post by a heavy-handed policy.
Despite his origins, having suffered racism in his own flesh, of his exiled grandfather, Mahdi advocated restricting entry and harshly persecuting those who have no legal right to be in the country. And it had its lowest moment when in a famous hunger strike that almost toppled the Government promised to review the dossiers of the plaintiffs, and then betray them. Now he washes his image, but before the rights were not a priority.
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