Aly Becomes First Female Muslim MP
Tuesday, 12th July 2016 at 11:20 am
The founder of a Not for Profit committed to addressing violent extremism in Australia is set to make history by becoming the first Muslim woman to be elected to federal Parliament.
The Labor candidate and international counter-terrorism expert, Dr Anne Aly claimed victory in the marginal seat of Cowan in Western Australia after a close run match with incumbent MP Luke Simpkins.
Labor called the seat on Monday after Aly received the bulk of preferences from about 200 Greens votes that were incorrectly sorted into Simpkins’s pile.
The Australian Electoral Commission confirmed to ABC News the mistake had occurred in the booth of Tapping, in the northern tip of the WA electorate.
Simpkins, who has held the seat since 2007, has not yet conceded defeat.
However WA Labor tweeted it was calling the seat and congratulated Aly on her victory.
— WA Labor (@walabor) July 11, 2016
Speaking to reporters, Aly said it was time that Cowan had an answer and she was “humbled” to have been elected.
“It’s a very proud moment for me, but also a very humble moment,” Aly said.
“I look forward to working with the community of Cowan as a strong and fair voice for them in federal Parliament.
“It has been a long wait and it has been a very emotional ride, but I’m just looking forward to moving forward now.”
When asked about being the first female Muslim MP she said it hadn’t set in yet.
“I do understand the significance of it, and I do understand it’s a significant time in history for Australia,” she said.
“I think having a diverse Parliament in these very trying times is an absolute positive and bodes well for the future of Australia.
“I think it’s going to make for some very robust discussion and I’m looking forward to that.”
Egyptian-born Aly has had a successful career as an academic and counter-terrorism expert prior to making the switch to politics.
In 2013 she founded People against Violent Extremism Inc (PaVE), an independent, non-government organisation which focuses on all forms of violent extremism.
She was the only Australian to be invited to President Obama’s White House conference on violent extremism in 2015.
She has worked with the United Nations on developing programs and policies on national security and counterterrorism.
During the campaign, Aly faced criticism from several high-profile Liberal MPs for a submission she made in the trial of radical Islamic preacher Junaid Thorne, recommending he take part in her deradicalisation program.
Speaking to reporters on Monday she said the smear campaign had backfired.
“People just don’t like the negative smear campaign,” Aly said.
“I don’t think it played a huge part in the result, but perhaps to sure-up some of the votes that were going to go against me anyway… it certainly didn’t lose me any votes.”
According to The Australian, Aly now wants Bill Shorten to use her counter-terrorism expertise by appointing her to Labor’s frontbench.
It comes after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed victory in the federal election on Sunday, with Shorten conceding defeat.
The Coalition is edging towards a slim majority in federal Parliament.
According to the ABC, the Coalition’s victories in the seats of Flynn and Capricornia were confirmed on Monday night, giving it 76 seats and allowing it to govern in its own right.