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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora