When Australia’s Muslim prime minister showed up to take the oath at Government House, he was holding an object never before seen at such a ceremony.
Matching his tie, new Industry Minister Ed Husic placed a bright pink Quran on the table and placed his right hand on it to take the oath.
The surprisingly colorful holy book was steeped in symbolism, and not just as a demonstration of the parliament’s growing diversity.
The Pink Quran was provided to Mr Husic by long-serving Sydney south-west community worker Maha Abdo, who was told he was looking for a book to take the oath.
Ed Husic is sworn in as Industry Minister while holding a bright pink Quran, the first time the Islamic holy book has been used to swear in a member of Australia’s federal cabinet
Ms Abdo, executive director of the Muslim Women’s Association, said she was donated the book by young schoolgirls ahead of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
She had never seen a pink Q before, but each of the young girls had one.
Ms Abdo believed the color would be symbolic of a new era of inclusiveness in Australian politics, which prompted her to send it to Mr Husic.
‘Pink, what does that mean? There are so many things in it. I had no idea it was to be gifted to this incredible person who was sworn into Parliament,’ she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“For me, it’s a lot about femininity, about purity…it’s also about hope in the fact that it reminds me, too, when the sun goes down, the sky turns that pink color.”
“The sun has set, and now it’s about to rise.”
Maha Abdo, a longtime community leader in Sydney’s west, provided the pink Quran used by Mr Husic and said it was a gift from young girls.
The pink Quran was sent by Ms Adbo to Mr Husic for the swearing-in ceremony with a handwritten note which read: ‘I never imagined this happening in my lifetime’
Mr Husic, 52, said his heart ‘bursts with pride’ as he passed the Quran to Dr Aly, who is also a trailblazer being the first Muslim woman to enter a federal ministry.
“We’re all trying to do a little bit better for those who come after us,” he said.
In 2013, Mr Husic, who is the son of Bosnian migrants, held a Quran that belonged to his father when he was sworn in as Parliamentary Secretary for Broadband to then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
This prompted a backlash on his Facebook page, with some accusing him of not being loyal to Australia and being part of a plot to impose Sharia.
Mr Husic said the attacks were a “natural part of democracy”, but also called them “harsh words from dark corners”.
“I think things have changed a lot and the country is much more understanding and accepting,” he said on Wednesday.
Anne Aly (left) also used the Pink Quran when Governor General David Hurley swore her in as minister for youth and early childhood education, making her the first female Muslim minister.
He believed his appointment would send a “signal to the wider community that people from different backgrounds, of different faiths can have a part to play in building a better country”.
However, he noted that there were still many Muslim Australians who opposed hate speech and suffered prejudice.
The Koran has duplicated because after Mr Husic swore he passed it on to Dr Aly, who was the first Muslim woman elected to federal parliament in 2016.
The MP for Western Australia took the opportunity to take the oath to become Minister for Youth and Early Childhood Education under Anthony Albanese’s ministry.
Dr Aly, 55, told the ABC she thought of her Egyptian father on her way to the swearing-in ceremony.
His parents immigrated from Egypt to Australia in 1969 when Dr Aly was two years old.
“I kind of had a conversation in my head with my dad because baba died in 2015, a year before I was sworn in as MP for Cowan,” she said.
“For any young girl like me who had dark hair, dark eyes, dark skin and different cultural backgrounds and wasn’t quite sure there was a place for her in this country, I hope this sends a message that there is a place for you.
“You can participate fully in the political, social and economic life of Australia in any way you choose.”
Dr Aly, who taught counter-terrorism and security at Edith Cowan University in Perth before entering parliament, said she believed Australian attitudes towards Muslims had become more welcoming.
The pink Quran was not the only holy book to stand out at the swearing-in ceremony, where ministers can bring their own scriptures to take the oath.
New Minister for Workplace Relations and the Arts, Tony Burke, dragged a huge Bible under his arm, which seemed to amuse the Prime Minister’s girlfriend, Jodie Haydon.
Mr Burke later explained that the Bible belonged to his great-grandfather and had been passed down to his family as an heirloom.
‘Dad’s grandfather came to Tumut [NSW] of Ireland after the famine and bought it on March 28, 1880,’ he wrote on Twitter.
An inscription inside includes the name of his ancestor Michael Bourke and the date he was purchased.
Who’s Who in the New Cabinet:
*Anthony Albanese – Prime Minister
* Richard Marles – Deputy Prime Minister, Defense
*Jim Chalmers – Treasurer
* Katy Gallagher – Finance, Civil Service, Women
* Penny Wong – Foreign Affairs
* Linda Burney – Australian Aborigines
* Bill Shorten – National Disability Insurance Scheme, Government Services
* Tony Burke – Employment and Labor Relations, Arts
* Tanya Plibersek – Environment, Water
* Don Farrell – Trade and Tourism, Special Minister of State
* Mark Butler – Health and Elder Care
* Chris Bowen – Climate Change and Energy
* Catherine King – Infrastructure, transportation and regional development, local government
* Brendan O’Connor – Skills and Training
* Mark Dreyfus – Attorney General and Cabinet Secretary
* Michelle Rowland – Communications
* Julie Collins – Housing, Homelessness, Small Business
* Jason Clare – Education
* Clare O’Neil – Home Affairs and Cybersecurity
* Amanda Rishworth – Social Services
* Ed Husic – Industry and Science
* Murray Watt – Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry and Emergency Management
* Madeleine King – Resources and Northern Australia
* Matt Keogh – Veterans Affairs and Defense Staff
* Pat Conroy – Defense Industry, International Development and Pacific
* Stephen Jones – Assistant Treasurer and Financial Services
* Andrew Giles – Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs
* Anne Aly – Early Childhood and Youth Education
* Anika Wells – Aged Care and Sports
* Kristy McBain – Regional Development, Local Governments and Territories.