JNN 10 Apr 2013 Melbourne :Making history in the multicultural country, a Pakistani-origin Muslim has been appointed as the first Muslim woman in any Australian parliament, breaking new grounds for politics in New South Wales.
We do need a spectrum of diverse politicians in Australian parliaments who can represent our communities,” Muslim academic Mehreen Faruqi told 9MSN news on Sunday, April 7.
“It shows the world that we really value multiculturalism.”
Dr Faruqi will replace NSW upper house MP Cate Faehrmann when she resigns from NSW politics in June to run for a seat in the Senate.
She migrated from Pakistan with her family in 1992 and describes herself as an “environmental engineer, climate change and education activist, proud union member and feminist.”
“Mehreen’s Pakistani heritage not only breaks new ground for the Greens but it breaks new grounds for politics in NSW, and indeed the whole country,” Faehrmann said in a statement on Sunday.
Dr Faruqi won the Greens pre-election late on Saturday following a postal ballot from among a field of seven women-only candidates, in another first for the party.
The move makes Dr Faruqi the first Muslim woman appointed to any parliament in Australia, the party said.
“As the first Greens MP in NSW from a migrant background, I’m also excited about building stronger relationships between the Greens and migrant communities,” she said in a statement.
Taking pride in her multicultural background, Faruqi said her Islamic faith was only “one element” of her background.
“I am proud of my culture and heritage but I’m also proud of my professional achievements,” she told 9MSN.
“I believe I might be the first environmental engineer in the NSW parliament as well.”
Dr Faruqi said her appointment was a “very progressive” move for Australia, and she would seek to build stronger relationships with migrant communities in her new role.
Though being the first Muslim woman in any Australian parliament, she is not the first Muslim to hold a parliamentary seat.
In 2010, Ed Husic, of Bosnian origin, was elected a member of parliament for western Sydney.
He took the oath with his hand put on a copy of the Noble Qur’an.
New South Wales is home to 168,788 Muslims, about 4.96 percent of the total population, making the state a habitat to the largest Muslim population, according to the 2006 government Census.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.