On 15th August, the Australian Senate appointed its first female Muslim member, Mehreen Faruqi. She became the first woman from the minority community to achieve the position. However, her joining has comes at a time when the country is caught up in a bitter row over racism.

The legislative council selected Faruqi as the Greens Party MP for New South Wales. Faruqi hails from Pakistan, her birthplace. However, her joining coincides with the row sparked by Senator Fraser Anning, seeking immigration restrictions based on race.

About the Row

On Tuesday, Anning advocated a return to a White Australia policy. He alleged that Muslims were responsible for acts of terror and crime and were dependant on welfare.

He also called for a migration ban on Muslims in his maiden speech in Parliament. Anning called for a “final solution” (a phrase referring to a plan devised by the Nazis to annihilate the Jews) to the immigration “problem”.

He concluded his speech saying, “To allow the Australian people to decide whether they want wholesale non-English speaking immigrants from the Third World and, in particular, whether they want any Muslims”.

Meet the new Trailblazing MP

Faruqi will be sworn in next week. As per BBC reports, she became the first Muslim to hold any political office in Australia. She was elected to the state parliament in 2013.

Faruqi migrated from Pakistan to Australia in 1992 with her family. Before taking up politics, she held a distinguished career as an academic. She also has a doctorate in environmental engineering.

Talking about her appointment, Faruqi said she would use her new role as senator to fight for a “positive future for Australia where we are stronger for our diversity”

She also said that overt displays of racism are not isolated incidents.

On Tuesday, in her leaving speech to the NSW parliament, she spoke about enduring “toxic, racist and sexist trolling” in her time as an MP. She also added that she faced criticism, “not because of what I’m doing but because of who I am, where I come from, and the colour of my skin”.

Commenting on Anning’s remarks, Faruqi said the he had “spat in the face of millions of Australians, spewing hate and racism”.

She said that she was excited to bring “much needed diversity” to Canberra. She also hoped her presence would encourage non-white Australians.

“The reality is our federal parliament doesn’t look anything like the streets and suburbs of Australia. Slowly but surely things are changing.”

Picture Credit: The Express Tribune

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Megha Thadani is an Intern with Shethepeople.tv

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