Meet Australia's first hijab-wearing senator

Fatima Payman's late father was a refugee from Afghanistan

By Web Desk

Published: Thu 4 Aug 2022, 9:43 AM

Fatima Payman made history when she became the first hijab-wearing woman to join Australia's parliament last week.

She is also the youngest person in the current parliament, said to be the most diverse ever.

"I don't judge somebody wearing flip-flops and boardies (board shorts)," she says in an interview with BBC. "So I don't want to be judged because I wear a scarf on my head. I'm just as Australian as they are."

Payman says that her election to the parliament is significant for Australian Muslims. "You can't be what you can't see," she explains. "People's hopes are tied into this position. They're looking up to me."

Payman's late father, an Afghan refugee, got her into politics. He used to tell her that he would take her back to Afghanistan and get her elected there so that she could help people.

"Just because he never thought I stood a chance in Australia," she says.

She also referred to an incident that happened five years ago, when Senator Pauline Hanson wore a burqa into the Senate calling for its ban.

"It was such a disrespectful stunt, to all Muslims," she says. "Aside from the First Nations people, we are all immigrants. Senator Hanson and her family heritage - they've come from somewhere."

"I'm young, I'm progressive, and my family was born overseas," Fatima Payman said in her speech at Parliament. "I am a representative of modern Australia."

She adds that she believes that an MP or senator wearing a hijab will no longer make headlines one day, and that is what she hopes to achieve.


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