SYDNEY – A Muslim woman has become Australia’s first hijab-wearing councilor, declared victory in the race for Canterbury-Bankstown council along with other two Muslim councilors from the same Sydney multicultural suburb.
Nadia Saleh, who wore a light-purple head covering on Saturday night, was one of three Muslim candidates who were elected to the Roselands ward, Daily Mail reported on Sunday, September 10.
In a historic first, all Roselands’ new councilors are Muslim, including her Labor running mate Mohammad Huda and Liberal candidate Mohammad Zaman.
Another Muslim Labor candidate, Bilal El-Hayek, was also elected in the Bankstown ward.
The mother-of-four first came to Australia fleeing from death in Lebanon civil war 28 years ago.
After settling in Sydney’s south-west, she dedicated herself to her newly adopted community, becoming a manager of the Riverwood Community Centre.
“When I first arrived in Australia, I struggled to raise my kids. I struggled to ask for support,” she told SBS program Once Upon A Time in Punchbowl in 2014, in which she did not wear a hijab.
“This is the experience that I went through. (It) made me more determined to focus and learn more about supporting and strengthening community members.”
She is taking her local government spot from her husband, a former deputy mayor, who is retiring after 13 years on the council.
Saleh joins a small group of Muslim politicians in Australia, which includes federal MPs Ed Husic and Anne Aly, and NSW upper house member Shaoquett Moselmane, who also hails from Lebanon.