In a pivotal moment towards achieving better representation of the nation’s diversity, Anne Aly and Ed Husic made history on Tuesday as they became Australia’s first Muslim ministers.
The duo have been sworn in on Wednesday, joining cabinet as members of the most diverse government front bench in history, with both holding a copy of the Qur’an during the ceremony.
Husic took the portfolio as the Minister for Industry and Science while Aly became Minister for Early Childhood Education and the Minister for Youth.
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“We know this is a very positive step for Australia – now truly embracing its multicultural and multi-religious constituency,” Keysar Trad, chief executive of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), told SBS News.
“Their inclusion amongst the ministers of the federal government will send a very positive message throughout the world.”
Trad praised their selection saying this would stress that people of the faith are “part and parcel” of Australian society.
“Young Muslims in Australia [will see] that political representation is an option which is open for them if they wish to contribute to society,” he said.
“It will certainly allow Muslims throughout Australia to feel like they are finally being accepted as Australians.”
Rita Jabri-Markwell from the Australian Muslim Advocacy Network said the elevation of both politicians to the federal ministry represented a great moment for Australia’s democracy.
“This is a day that we never thought we would see and it’s so uplifting – so exciting and great for democracy to have that diversity in parliament,” she told SBS News.
“It will bring people closer to politics and democracy, it will make people feel like they’re more part of the conversation.”
Who Is Who?
Aly is an Australian politician who has been a Labor member of the House of Representatives since the 2016 election, representing the electorate of Cowan in Western Australia.
She has a master’s degree and a PhD from Edith Cowan University, and held a number of senior positions within Western Australia’s public service before entering politics.
Aly also worked at both Curtin University and Edith Cowan University, with a focus on counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism, an area she has also served as an adviser.
Aly founded People Against Violent Extremism (PaVE) to address extremism in Australia.
On the other hand, Husic, who represents the western Sydney seat of Chifley, became the first Muslim to be elected to parliament in 2010.
Husic was raised in Western Sydney and was educated at Blacktown South Public School, Mitchell High School and the University of Western Sydney, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Communications.
He is the son of Bosnian Muslim immigrants and entered politics after a career he describes as working in roles across the private and public sector.
He had previously faced a torrent of abuse on social media, following his first swearing ceremony in the role of parliamentary secretary in 2013 responding by shrugging off the bigotry.