Australia’s first Muslim federal ministers Anne Aly and Ed Husic hope appointments mark ‘new era’ of inclusivity | Australian politics

For Anne Aly, her swearing-in this week as minister for early childhood and youth was more than a personal achievement.

This moment signified change and hope for her and fellow Muslim cabinet minister, Ed Husic.

Making history on Tuesday, Aly and Husic were sworn into the federal cabinet, proudly clutching their Qurans, as the nation watched.

It was a moment they had hoped would happen, a potential reflection of changing perceptions of a community that has struggled with online and in-person slander and abuse.

“In the post 9/11 years, Muslims around Australia were left with a profound sense of loss,” Aly told the Guardian.

Ed Husic is sworn-in as minister for industry and innovation. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

“It particularly impacted young Muslims who had never considered themselves anything but Australian. The political rhetoric that followed those years fed into Islamophobia and division.

“I hope we are now witnessing a new era – an era where Australia is truly inclusive and where that inclusivity is reflected in our political institutions.”

Aly was also the first Muslim woman elected to parliament, winning her seat of Cowan in Western Australia in 2016 and increasing her margin by 9% this year.

She said she was keenly aware of the significance of her appointment beyond the responsibility it entails, reflecting on how her younger self would see this moment.

“Growing up, I often struggled with finding a sense of belonging. I think young Anne would be looking at this moment, and I hope it would reassure her that she does belong.

Anne Aly

“As a Muslim woman, I realize that the significance of my appointment extends beyond my feelings and has an impact on young women who can see themselves reflected in the leadership of this nation.

“I hope that it sends them a message that there is a place for them and that they belong.”

A counter-terrorism expert before becoming a politician, Aly said it was a “great honor” to be appointed to the frontbench, adding that it was “heartening” to be part of the most diverse cabinet in history.

“I have always said that our parliament should reflect the people we serve, not just in terms of diversity of gender or ethnic background but also in professional and life experience.

“When I was first elected to parliament in 2016, it was a very different place to the parliament of 2022. Seeing the breadth of diversity among my colleagues in the Albanese Labor government is a significant moment both personally and in our nation’s history.”

It comes after Islamophobia Register Australia (IRA) reported a fourfold increase in reports of in-person incidents of anti-Muslim hate and a spike in online Islamophobia, in particular after the Christchurch massacre.

The third Islamophobia in Australia report, released earlier this year, also showed an increase in the instances of Muslims being associated with being terrorists.

Husic, appointed minister for industry, told the ABC he was nervously waiting for the ceremony to begin.

“I felt the moment, the weight of that moment.”

Husic, who represents Chifley in Sydney’s west, is the son of Bosnian migrants and had previously served as parliamentary secretary to the former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

At the time, he was also sworn in a while holding a Quran and faced a fierce backlash online but he said he felt things have changed in the intervening years.

“I think things have changed quite a bit, and the country is a lot more understanding and accepting,” he said.

“There are a lot of Muslim Australians that still cop a lot of hate speech and have to contend with many things that many other Australians aren’t forced to.”

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.