The Australian National Imams Council held a reception at their Sydney headquarters in honour of Mr Khodr Saleh OAM, the former deputy mayor of Canterbury Bankstown Council recognising his services to the community while celebrating his award of Medal of Order of Australia.
The dinner event, MCed by Mr Saleh’s son Kemal Saleh, was held in Chullora on Thursday 31 October 2019 attended by a number of politicians, Imams, business and community leaders.
The President of ANIC, Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman welcomed the guests including the chief guest Mr Khodr Saleh describing in details his past as well as ongoing services to the community in general and the Muslim community in Bankstown in particular.
Sheikh Shady took the opportunity to formally introduce Bilal Rauf, a lawyer and media personality who has recently been appointed as ANIC’s Spokesperson. He acknowledged the skills and competence of Bilal for the position and hoped that ANIC’s views articulated very well in the community through this move.
Bilal Rauf talked about his current readings in Muslim history of Australia with quotations and display of some historically significant photos that he said will make the young Muslim Australians proud of their heritage.
The Grand Mufti of Australia labelled Khodr Saleh of the bride groom at the event tonight celebrating his grand achievements including the title of being OAM.
Several politician colleagues including Tony Burke MP, Jihad Dib MP, Sophie Cotsis MP, Mayor Khal Asfour and Councillor Bilal Alhayek paid tribute to Mr Saleh specially pointing out his contribution towards peace and harmony in the district.
During his acceptance speech Mr Khodr Saleh OAM described how he was incredibly humbled to be honoured with the award of Medal of Order of Australia and thanked ANIC for the recognition.
Talking about his journey from being a migrant from Lebanon and entering politics he reflected on how the Muslim community has progressed in an incredible pace towards success in this country.
“Today I stand here not just as the first Muslim of Lebanese -Arabic heritage, who had the honour to be elected on the Labor tickets in the Canterbury City Council in 2004 , but also as husband of the first Muslim woman, my wife Nadia who made history in 2017 being the first Muslim hijab-wearing woman to be elected into local government in Australia.”
“This local identity was joined by our local member Jihad Dib, the first Muslim elected to the lower house of the NSW parliament and federal MPs Ed Husic and Anne Aly, including NSW upper house member Shaoquett Moselmane and Mehreen Faruqi and many mayors and counsellors around NSW and Australia.”
Towards the end of his address he thanked all those who believed in him, advised him, mentored him and cooperated with him.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thanks the ANIC for organising this events and special thanks also to the Mufti Dr Ibrahim abu Mohamed and sheikh Shady Alsulaiman for their support and leadership.
“Many thanks also to my Labor colleagues Tony Burke and Jihad Dib for being there always to advice and provide guidance, thank you Tony, for believing in me , it is only with you by my side that I have been able to run till the end!”
My thanks also goes to my extended family in Riverwood community centre and the Muslim Arab and Lebanese community.
“Thank you for my family , I would not be here today without the love and support you provide, my wife Nadia , my sons Mohsen, Kamal, Hady and my daughter Rana.”
“Finally to the people of Canterbury Bankstown , to whom I pledged to always be a strong and fair voice and I could not have gone through this journey without your support. I look forward to working with you, and for you in serving our community in future.”