Nadia Saleh, an Australian resident of Lebanese descent, has won a seat in the city council of Canterbury-Bankstown, Sydney. Nadia is the first elected hijabi councillor in the country.
She won the race for the country’s largest city council in terms of population along with other two Muslim councillors, Mohammad Huda and Mohammad Zaman, from the same Sydney suburb.
Nadia, a 31-year-old mother of four, lives with her husband Khider Saleh, who was the first Muslim and Arab to win in the city’s council election. Nadia fled Lebanon during the civil war 28 years ago and settled in Sydney’s southwest. She served as CEO of the Riverwood Community Centre for 18 years.
Khider has described Nadia’s victory as a very important achievement. Al Arabiya quoted him as saying, “The ill-intentioned campaigns seeking to prevent Muslims from participating in the elections and banning their inclusion as part of Australia’s social fabric backfired.”
Last month, Pauline Hanson, a far-right Australian senator, wore a burqa to parliament as part of her campaign to ban it on security grounds, drawing rebuke from the Muslims as well as the government.
“I am not going to pretend to ignore the stunt that you have tried to pull today by arriving in the chamber dressed in a burqa,” said Attorney-General George Brandis.
“We all know that you are not adherent of the Islamic faith. I would caution and counsel you with respect to be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians,” Brandis continued.