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German state parliament elects first Muslim woman speaker

German

STUTTGART: Muhterem Aras has been elected as the first Muslim woman to become the speaker of a state parliament in Germany.

Aras, 50, is a member of the Green Party and took the post in Baden-Württemberg state. “We wrote history today,” she said after sweeping in with a significant majority and said her victory sent a message of “openness, tolerance and successful integration.”

This is considered a ‘historic’ step for the country where thousands of refugees have risked their lives to reach from various countries around the world particularly Iraq and Syria which has seen brutal civil wars.

There are been increased tensions and even hostility towards the effects of immigration in the country. More than one million people have been allowed to settle in the country. Many European countries are still struggling to handle the influx of illegal refugees in the countries and borders have been sealed to prevent them.

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Muhterem Aras

Aras was born 2nd January 1966 in near a small village near Bingol, Turkey to Alavi Kurds. In 1973, she immigrated to Germany as a child with her parents and siblings where they settled near Stuttgart.

She studied economics at the University of Hohenheim and established an accounting and tax advice firm. Muhterem Aras is married since 1986 and has a son and a daughter.

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She started her political career in 1992 by standing for the Green Party on the local council. She was the parliamentary leader of the party from 2007-2011. She gradually rose to enter the Baden-Württemberg state parliament and become the Landtag President.

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Aras defeated an anti-immigration candidate of the Alternative for Germany (AFD) party by securing 96 votes.  The AFD refused to applaud her and had launched a campaign that Islam was incompatible with the German constitution and had even called for a ban mosque minarets and the burqa. A recent poll has claimed that two-third Germans believe that Islam does not belong to their country.

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