Muslim Green set to push leftist agenda and the dictatorship she left behind in Pokistan
Environmental engineer Mehreen Faruqi will have to reconcile Islamic teachings with party policy . Picture: Nikki ShortÂ Source:The Australian
A PAKI-born migrant who made the top echelons of environmental engineering is set to become the first Muslim woman elected to an Australian parliament, after the NSW Greens chose Mehreen Faruqi to fill a state upper house vacancy.
The Greens said yesterday that Dr Faruqi was preselected by a postal ballot of all NSW members of the party, from a field of seven in a contest in which only women could run.
Islamic Friendship Association spokesman Keysar Trad yesterday hailed the move as a major advance in demonstrating opportunity for Muslim women in Australia, but cautioned Dr Faruqi could have difficulty reconciling the teachings of Islam with Greens policies, particularly the party’s acceptance of homosexuality and support for gay marriage.
In 1992, Dr Faruqi migrated from Pakistan with her husband Omar, who is also a civil engineer, and her one-year-old son to escape the harsh regime of the time. “We had a dictatorship then, and we were quite unhappy,” she told The Australian.
Dr Faruqi did a master’s and PhD at the University of NSW, and worked in leadership positions in local government, multinational consulting firms and academia.
She is academic director of the master of business and technology program and associate professor at the Australian Graduate School of Management at UNSW.
Dr Faruqi will take the state upper house seat held by Cate Faehrmann when she resigns to contest the Senate later this year. She will take on the state party’s portfolio responsibilities for the environment, the status of women and transport.
Dr Faruqi indicated she will fully take on board Ms Faehrmann’s leftist agenda, saying she would be “fighting for gender equality and equal marriage” and taking up “the campaign against coal-seam gas mining”.
Dr Faruqi described herself as a practising Muslim, but said she came from a modern stream of Islam in Pakistan and did not, for example, wear a head scarf.
She steered around whether she, like former Greens NSW leader and now senator Lee Rhiannon, supported the international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign against Israel, saying she supported the party’s policy promoting human rights for Palestinians and Israelis.
Mr Trad said the elevation of Dr Faruqi would encourage women faithful to Islam to enter politics. But he said Islamic leaders remained absolutely opposed to homosexuality and gay marriage because they went against the fundamental teachings of the faith, creating a dilemma for Dr Faruqi.
“It will be something that is likely to test her . . . we will be watching to see whether she will allow her beliefs as a Muslim to succumb to the party policy.”
The Greens, often criticised as representing a trendy inner-city elite, claimed Dr Faruqi as another triumph — she will become the first Greens MP in NSW from a migrant background, a characteristic she plans to use to help the party build links with migrant communities in Sydney’s west.