LIVERPOOL – A Muslim councilor has been elected a mayor of the western Australian suburb of Liverpool after defeating the governing Labour Party in one of its strongholds.
“I like keeping things simple,” Mayor New Mannoun told SBS on Monday, September 10.
“[I] believe in God, I am a Muslim, but religion never came up as an issue [in his campaign].”Liberal Councilor Mannoun was elected the mayor of the Liverpool City Council after taking 43.6 percent of the vote.
|Australia's First Muslim MP|
“There's certainly a big change in the air and I'm just so excited to be part of it,” the Muslim councilor said.
“I'd like to think this was the start of great things to come in western Sydney for the Liberal Party.”
Mannoun’s victory ended decades of Labour’s grip on the Liverpool council.
The Labour, which has been in control of the council over the past two decades, has been facing diminishing support in the multicultural city.
Mannoun himself started his political career with the Australian Labour Party.
“My local member at the time was Mark Latham, I got caught up in the hype that a boy from Liverpool could be Prime Minister,” he said.
“But I started analyzing my personal beliefs and I realized, ‘You know what? This isn’t for me.’”
“I’m a true and proud Liberal. It’s the individual who drives the prosperity of our nation but we need to be compassionate and helpful. Eighty per cent of Australians work for small business.”
Born in Boston to a Lebanese mother and a Sierra Leonean-born father, Mannoun takes pride in belonging to different cultures across the world.
“I’m a proud Australian/American/Arab/African,” the 30-year-old councilor said.
In Liverpool, Arabic is the second-most spoken language, and there's a significant Serbian-speaking community.
Catholicism is still the dominant religion, but Islam comes in second.
Noticing the growing dissatisfaction with Labour, Mannoun took the decision to run for elections.
“There was a perception there: We’re Liverpool, we’re Labor voters and Liberal is for the eastern suburbs, but I asked, ‘What have they done for Liverpool?’” he said.
On the eve of last weekend’s local elections, the wife of the new mayor went into labor.
“With the birth our son Jacob, my wife has now finished her labor pains and Liverpool might have too,” he joked.
New South Wales is home to 168.788 Muslims, about 49.6 percent of the total population, making the state a habitat to the largest Muslim population, according to the 2006 government Census.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
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