Photo of the week: Mayor & Sons


Leuven's new mayor Mohamed Ridouani was not alone at his swearing in ceremony this week

Oath taken

Leuven's new mayor Mohamed Ridouani and his sons Ilias and Dries, pictured in relaxed mood at a swearing-in ceremony on 2 January. While he was born and raised in the city, Ridouani's Moroccan parents make him the first person with foreign roots to govern a major Flemish city.

Ridouani has been a city councillor in Leuven since 2007, with responsibilities including human resources, education, environment and diversity. One of his pet initiatives has been the Buddy Project, which recruits mentors, such as students on teacher training courses, to give after-school support to socially vulnerable children. More than 1,500 kids are helped each year.

He succeeds fellow socialist Louis Tobback, who had been mayor of Leuven for the past 24 years. “This is the result I had hoped for,” Tobback said after last year's election. “I have always very much believed in Mo but had to wait to see if Leuven residents were ready for a mayor with a foreign background. Now he has more individual votes that I do."

With this week's news full of images of smashed windows and burning cars, following disturbances in Brussels' ethnically diverse Molenbeek neighbourhood, Ridouani's election tells a more positive story of second-generation migrant lives in Belgium.

Photo: Thierry Roge/Belga