Australia, a country that is dealing with the pressing issue whether to ban the hijab or not, has seen the first hijabi win in a council election. Nadia Saleh, of Lebanese heritage, served as the CEO of Riverwood Community Center for 18 years before discovering that she was elected as the country’s first veiled Muslim councillor.
This result comes as an important headline as Muslim women are often under the scrutiny of far-right protestors, and suffer from misrepresented descriptions in the media as “powerless” and “oppressed”. A few weeks ago, one Australian senator was seen to mock Muslim women in a public stunt that aimed to ban the ‘burqa’ – a piece of clothing worn by a minority of Muslim women. As premeditated and ill-intentioned campaigns directed at the Muslim community in Australia are brought to light by the media, the achievements and successes of Muslim women and men are equally highlighted. As Nadia Saleh has just proved that Muslim women are able to achieve great heights, she now joins the ranks of other Muslims that have become leaders in their community and beyond; namely, Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim lawmaker in the United States.
Lessons for aspiring leaders can be drawn from Nadia’s win. For one thing, do not let hate speech win. Not over the people and not over your hearts. By blocking the channel for hate speech, you are allowing yourself to continue on that path you are on to achieve a great legacy, and thereafter inspire millions more to aim high. You will be a representation of your community and will be able to veraciously dispel myths about yourself and those who are commonly misrepresented.
Here’s to more wins by Muslim women!