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).
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid