Australia

New Australian Muslim Senator looks to normalize the Hijab in her country

Fatima Payman, who has been elected as the first hijab-wearing Muslim women in Australian Senate, says she wants to normalize hijab in the country. 

The Labor Party candidate will be representing the state of Western Australia as a Senator, becoming the first hijab-wearing Muslim woman to do so. Winning as the sixth Senator for the state, she is also the first Afghan Australian in the parliament. Payman’s win was confirmed on Monday, which also marked World Refugee Day.

Payman said she not only stands for people who identify as refugees or immigrants, people of colour, or Muslims but the Australian population as a whole. “Yes, it is true that I will be the first hijab-wearing parliamentarian. But my labour values are what have brought me this far, and before I identify as anything else, I will be a labour Senator. So in terms of the values that I aspire towards or want to see change, things that voice multicultural people and have them reflected in parliament,” Payman said in an interview with news outlets.

Green Senator Mehreen Faruqi applauded Payman on Twitter saying, “Really great to have another Muslim woman join the Senate. Representation matters, and I look forward to working with Fatima. Congratulations.”

The ruling Labor government has championed its diversity, with a ministerial lineup including the first female Muslim minister, Anne Aly, and the first Muslim to serve in cabinet, Ed Husic.

Fatima Payman’s win as the hijabi Senator is significant in the upper house, where leaders like Pauline Hanson, the leader of Australia’s One Nation party, have issued numerous challenges against the country’s minorities. Hanson has benefited from – and helped to shape – the normalization of racism and xenophobia in Australia.

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