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‘Wear your hijab with pride’, says Australian MP Fatima Payman

CANBERRA: Labor’s Fatima Payman, Australia’s first hijab-wearing parliamentarian, has encouraged girls who decide to wear the hijab to do so with pride in her first address to the Senate. She has spoken of her journey as an Afghan refugee and encouraged young women to don their religious garb with pride.

She had been tasked with delivering a reply to Governor-General David Hurley’s opening speech to parliament, a response that traditionally outlines the ruling government’s agenda.

The 27-year-old, who is the daughter of a refugee from Afghanistan, is the first hijab-wearing Muslim woman in Australia’s federal parliament. She is also the youngest member of this parliament, and the first Afghan-Australian to be elected.

“A hundred years ago, let alone ten years ago, would this parliament accept a woman choosing a hijab to be elected?” she said in the Senate.

Senator Payman said it was welcome progress to see parliament starting to reflect the “true diversity” of Australia.

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The senator for Western Australia also addressed her status as the first parliamentarian to wear the hijab, saying she hoped her journey could inspire others.

“For those who choose to judge me on what I should wear or judge my competency based on my external [appearance], know that the hijab is my choice,” she said.

 

Senator Payman became emotional as she reflected on the “sacrifices” of her late father in giving her the chance to become a senator.

“I’d like my first gratitude to be expressed to my late forgotten father whose sacrifices will never be forgotten and who I dearly wish was here to see how far his little daughter has come,” she said.

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