Pakistani-born Mehreen Faruqi becomes Australia’s first Muslim woman senator amid race row

  • She arrived in Australia from Pakistan in 1992 and forged a successful career as an academic and engineer

SYDNEY – Pakistani-born Mehreen Faruqi became Australia’s first Muslim woman senator after being appointed to fill a vacant seat on Wednesday.

The Greens Party MP for New South Wales will be sworn into office next week.

Faruqi is due to become a Greens senator for New South Wales during a joint sitting of the state parliament, where she will be chosen to fill the casual vacancy left by the outgoing Lee Rhiannon.

The timing of Anning’s hateful speech means Faruqi will become Australia’s first female Muslim senator less than 24 hours after a fellow senator called for Muslim immigration to be halted entirely.

Faruqi told Guardian Australia Anning’s speech had thrown millions of decent Australians under the bus in a “desperate attempt to remain relevant and reignite a long gone racist policy”.

“Senator Anning has spat in the face of our successful multicultural society, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from an ex-One Nation senator,” she said.

“These merchants of hate in the Senate will stop at nothing to keep attacking non-white people simply for the sake of sowing division in our country for their narrow political interests.”

Faruqi became Australia’s first Muslim woman to enter any Australian parliament when she joined the NSW Legislative Council in June 2013.

Her life gives a lie to Anning’s hateful rhetoric about Muslims. She arrived in Australia from Pakistan in 1992, and forged a successful career as an academic and engineer, working on improving vital infrastructure across the country. Faruqi held leadership roles on major engineering projects, developing stormwater, recycling, cycleways, and hydropower infrastructure. She has a PhD in environmental engineering, led University of NSW’s Institute of Environmental Studies, and managed the environment and water-related services for both the Mosman and Port Macquarie-Hastings councils.

Faruqi said Anning’s comments were part of a deliberate strategy to create fear and wrongly attribute society’s ills to immigrants. She said she would use her career in the Senate to call out such vile comments.

“The use of the term ‘final solution’ is a disgusting and deliberate telegraph to appease people who hold deeply sickening and violent white supremacist views,” she said.

“It’s pretty sad that such dangerous fringe and racist politics continue to make its way into a debate but as a Senator, I will call it out every time.”