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

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground 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.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid