x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Muslim MP's milestone

A Muslim MP has been named to an important parliamentary post in the government of Australia. It's a welcome step forward.

The past week in Australian politics has been extraordinary, with the sudden removal of prime minister Julia Gillard and her replacement by Kevin Rudd, who she usurped three years ago.

That change led to a reshuffle of the ministry that has seen many new faces come to the fore. Among them is Ed Husic, the new parliament secretary to the prime minister.

Already the first Muslim elected to the federal parliament, just two years ago, Mr Husic yesterday became the first Muslim promoted to the front bench, and the first to swear the oath of office while holding the Quran.

Governor General Quentin Bryce, Australia's ceremonial head of state, was right to note that it was "a wonderful day for multiculturalism, and everything it stands for in our country".

Mr Husic, the son of Bosnian immigrants, represents a western Sydney constituency named after 1940s prime minister Ben Chifley, who supported the "White Australia Policy" that for a long time limited immigration to those of British or western European origin.

Hopefully, Mr Husic's elevation will go a long way towards allaying misunderstandings about Muslims that, sadly, persist in Australia and elsewhere in the western world.