A Muslim woman was on Wednesday appointed as a member of the Australia’s Senate, becoming the first female from the minority community to achieve the position amid a bitter row over racism in the country.
Mehreen Faruqi, the Pakistani-origin Greens Party MP for New South Wales, was selected by the legislative council to fill a vacant senate seat.
“The New South Wales Parliament has selected Dr @MehreenFaruqi to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator @leerhiannon,” the Australian Senate tweeted.
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Faruqi, who will sworn in next week, became the first Muslim to hold any political office in Australia when she was elected to the state parliament in 2013, the BBC reported.
She had migrated from Pakistan to Australia in 1992 with her young family. Prior to entering politics, she held a distinguished career as an academic and has a doctorate in environmental engineering.
Faruqi, who is in her 50s, said she would use her new role as senator to fight for a “positive future for Australia where we are stronger for our diversity”.
Her joining coincided with the row sparked by Senator Fraser Anning who has sought a national vote on whether to ban Muslim migration.
In his maiden speech in Parliament on Tuesday, Anning alleged that Muslims were responsible for acts of terror and crime and were dependant on welfare. Muslims account for less than three per cent of Australia’s population, census data shows.
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“The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote,” Anning concluded, before proposing a plebiscite “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”.
Commenting on Anning’s remarks, Faruqi said the Australian Party senator had “spat in the face of millions of Australians, spewing hate and racism” in his first speech to parliament.