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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs