Elected as the first Muslim in Manitoba Legislative Assembly, a jubilant Ibrahim Obby Khan has made it clear that he is proud of this achievement, hoping to inspire more Muslims to follow their dreams.
“Yeah, that’s a huge honor and a badge for me. I was one of the first East Indians to play in the CFL, now the first Canadian Muslim to be elected in [the Manitoba Legislative Assembly]. It’s just — it’s amazing,” Khan said, CBC reported.
Khan made a narrow byelection victory for the Progressive Conservatives over Liberal Willard Reaves by 197 votes in Fort Whyte on Tuesday night.
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He believes his achievement would encourage more Muslims to follow his suit.
“My son can grow up, looking at, hey, there’s a Muslim in the leg., there’s representation there,” Khan said.
“Oh, you know,” he added, pausing, “you almost got me to cry there.”
Rana Bokhari, who led the Manitoba Liberal Party from October 2013 to September 2016, is Muslim but was never elected as an MLA. She is “extremely proud” of Khan.
“We’ve never had representation in the legislature and I’ve always wanted that. When I was leader, I wanted that,” she said.
“He gets to do that and I definitely am celebrating with him, all partisanship aside.”
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Idris Elbakri, a director with the Manitoba Islamic Association, praised Khan’s victory as a major milestone for the Muslim community.
“This is the political body that governs our province. We’ve had several Muslim candidates in past years attempt to make it to the legislature, [but] to actually have Obby win is significant,” Elbakri said.
“Increasingly, our political system is reflecting the diversity of our community. I think that’s a wonderful thing.”
Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey found that 3.2% of the total population are Muslims.
This makes Islam the second-largest religion in the country after Christianity.
The history of the Muslim community in Manitoba goes back to the early 1900s.
The fast-growing Muslim community hovered below 1,000 people in the 1970s and reached the roughly 20,000 today.