The first Muslim woman elected to Australia's federal parliament has spoken of how racism and domestic violence has shaped her career. Egypt-born Anne Aly has released an autobiography "Finding My Place," which details religious bigotry she suffered at school and violence at the hands of her first husband.
From Cairo to the Australian capital Canberra, "Finding My Place" is the story of abuse, desperation and success. Anne Aly came to Australia from Egypt when she was two years old. She details how she was bullied by fellow students at school because of her Arabic heritage and how she was subjected to abuse and violence by a former husband.
Aly, who is 50-years old, went on to forge a successful career as an academic. She became one of the world's leading experts on counter-terrorism and was an adviser to the United Nations.
She writes in her newly-released autobiography that after a decade as a well-regarded researcher she was becoming jaded with Australia's political system and its apparent inability to bring about change. She thought the only way to make a difference was to leave her academic career behind and enter politics.
In 2016, she was elected by a narrow majority to Australia's federal parliament, where she represents the center-left Labor opposition.
She said that her parliamentary office still receives hate mail and threatening phone calls.
"One week in parliament somebody decided to call up and say tell Anne Aly if she wants to earn the respect of White Australia then she needs to be quiet. You know, I get a lot of hate mail, I get a lot of hate phone calls but that one was particularly stinging, and it was particularly stinging because as I write in the book I had spent much of my life trying to be this person that in my mind and in my head — I am Australian," said Aly.
According to official statistics, there are about 600,000 Muslims in Australia, which is roughly 2.6 percent of the total population.
Over a third were born in Australia, while others have arrived as migrants from a host of countries, including Lebanon, Turkey, Bangladesh and Fiji.
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said recently that anti-Islam sentiment in Australia was increasing.
A report into Islamophobia in Australia published last year by Charles Sturt University found there was a "disturbing amount" of bigotry at institutional and personal levels across the country.
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