At a time when the headscarf is a hot issue in Europe, it comes as something of a shock to meet Fatima Elatik.

This feisty 36-year-old - who combines her headscarf with bright red lipstick - is mayor of Zeeburg, a large multicultural district of Amsterdam.

She is the first Dutch-Moroccan woman to become a district mayor - quite an achievement for a woman whose mother arrived in the Netherlands 40 years ago, unable to read or write.

"My mum first held a pen to write her own name once she was 60," Fatima recalls.

"And now she sits next to me when I read the newspaper, reading the words with me."

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