PERTH – Australian academic Dr Anne Aly claimed the West Australian seat of Cowan on Monday, July 11, becoming the first female Muslim MP in Canberra.
“I think having a diverse parliament in these very trying times is an absolute positive and bodes well for the future of Australia,” Dr Aly told reporters, ABC News reported.
The Labour party candidate, Dr Aly won its seat in the House of Representatives after defeating incumbent Liberal MP Luke Simpkins.
Though Simpkins has not conceded defeat yet, Labor said it has won the marginal West Australian seat.
Celebrating her victory, Dr Aly said she was humbled and looked forward to becoming a strong and fair voice in parliament for the Cowan community.
She said she recognized the significance of becoming the first Muslim woman in the Lower House of federal parliament, especially after Liberal frontbenchers accused her during the campaign of supporting Islamic preacher Junaid Thorne during his trial for flying with a false identity.
She countered it was a smear campaign and the de-radicalization program she had suggested for Thorne was funded by the Coalition government.
“I do believe it backfired, whether or not it actually helped, I think that’s a long short to call, that’s a difficult call to make,” she said.
“But I do believe it did backfire. But it certainly didn’t lose me any votes.”
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country’s second largest religion after Christianity.