News / Asia

First Muslim Woman Will Enter Australian Parliament

Australia's Parliament House (top) is visible above the old Parliament House (white building below) and Anzac Parade (foreground) in Canberra, (File photo).Australia's Parliament House (top) is visible above the old Parliament House (white building below) and Anzac Parade (foreground) in Canberra, (File photo).
x
Australia's Parliament House (top) is visible above the old Parliament House (white building below) and Anzac Parade (foreground) in Canberra, (File photo).
Australia's Parliament House (top) is visible above the old Parliament House (white building below) and Anzac Parade (foreground) in Canberra, (File photo).
Phil Mercer
A Pakistan-born migrant is to become the first Muslim woman to serve in an Australia parliament.  Mehreen Faruqi, a prominent figure in environmental engineering, has been chosen by the New South Wales Greens to fill a vacancy in the upper house of the state legislature. 
 
Mehreen Faruqi migrated from Pakistan with her family in 1992.  She describes herself on her Twitter page as an "environmental engineer, climate change activist, proud union member and feminist."
 
She has been chosen to represent the Greens, a center left party, in Australia's first and oldest parliament in New South Wales.  The university academic was selected by a postal ballot of party members, from a field of seven in a contest in which only women could run.
 
Faruqi will take up her position in July, when she will become the first female Muslim in any of Australia’s state, territory or federal parliaments.
 
She is currently a professor at the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales.
 
She says, although her faith is important, so are her professional accomplishments. 

“I grew up in Pakistan in a Muslim culture and a Muslim family and I think I am very typical of Pakistani-Australian Muslims who, for example you know, abstain from alcohol and practice fasting during Ramadan," she explained. "But I would like to say that is one aspect of who I am.  I would really like to be defined by what I did professionally in life, and what I do for society, in general.”     
 
However, Muslim groups worry that she will have difficulty reconciling the teachings of Islam with Greens policies, particularly the party's support for gay marriage.
 
But Faruqi say she believes faith should have no bearing on Australian politics. 

“I see no role that religion plays in government and nor should it.  I am not a spokesperson, you know, for religious Islam.  There are many other MPs who are Christians and likewise they are not spokespeople for the church.  So that is a really important point to make," she stated. "And, like I said earlier, I joined the Greens because of a really strong position on sustainability, social justice, human rights [and] multiculturalism.”      
 
But Keysar Trad, the founder of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, says the new MP’s political career will bring her into conflict with the fundamental philosophies of her faith.
 
“She would support things such as gay marriage and that is directly in conflict with the teachings of Islam.  I do not know whether she is going to stick to that, how she is going to harmonize between the two," Trad said. "This is not to say that we would want anyone in any way to vilify people who are part of the gay community, but our religious rules are very clear that marriage is between a male and female.”    
 
Australia is home to about 475,000 Muslims, who make up just over two percent of the national population.  They are a diverse community and have migrated from more than 70 countries, including Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia and Lebanon.  Only a handful of Muslim men have been elected to Australian parliaments.  Ed Husic became the first Muslim elected to federal parliament in Canberra at the 2010 election.  Husic, the son of Bosnian migrants, represents the governing Labor party and was sworn into parliament with his hand on his parents’ Koran.
 
Marion Maddox, a professor of religion and politics at Macquarie University, says very few members of Australia’s minority communities have successfully entered parliament politics.

“Australian parliaments are notoriously un-diverse in every way.  It has taken a long time for people from all sorts of ethnic minorities to make it into Australian parliaments, with the exception of Jewish Australians.  There have been Jews in Australian parliaments since right from the beginning.  The way that Australian parliaments are elected make it very difficult for anyone who does not look absolutely mainstream to get a look in,” said Maddox.
 
Analysts expect more minorities to make their mark on Australian politics as the nation’s ethnic diversity increases.  About a quarter of the population was born overseas.  Australia’s population reached 23 million, this week, and much of the growth is driven by immigration.
 
Faruqi will take her place in the New South Wales State Parliament in July.  She will take on the Green’s portfolio responsibilities for the environment, transport and the status of women.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: stan from: usa
May 13, 2013 11:02 AM
She won't last long before they threaten to kill her !! Or she changes and start spouting out Moslem views .She is probably a plant !! Foot in the door kinda thing !! If she is MOSLEM then what are her views on Sharia ??

by: Human from: sydney
May 02, 2013 7:38 PM
I applaud a woman to enter politics whatever her belief is, in this still male dominated world.
People like"Good Grief"are the one who should know more about WOMEN RIGHTS

by: Good Grief
April 24, 2013 9:09 AM
God help Australia!

Faruqi say she believes faith should have no bearing on Australian politics. Oh really? Is that "very typical of Pakistani-Australian Muslims"? And just what is her stance on women's rights?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs