Western Australian Senator Fatima Payman, who created headlines when she broke ranks with her political colleagues recently and accused Israel of genocide and other atrocities, was a special guest of the Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) at its offices at Lakemba in southwestern Sydney on Tuesday evening 21 May.

As Australia’s oldest non-profit Islamic organisation, the LMA has been dedicated to supporting the vulnerable and oppressed in the Muslim community, both locally and internationally, since its formation in 1962.

In a media release issued on Wednesday 22 May, the LMA said, “our advocacy for Palestine over many decades has been unwavering, and we commend Senator Payman for her courageous stance on this critical issue.”

During her visit, Senator Payman reiterated her statements made on the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, demonstrating her commitment to justice, human rights and peace.

The first Western Australian to wear the hijab in the Senate, Senator Payman broke ranks with her Labor Party colleagues on Nakba Day (Wednesday 15 May) when highlighting that “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” signifies “freedom from the occupation, freedom from the violence and freedom from the inequality.”

LMA president Hafez Alameddine said: “We applaud Senator Payman’s bold recognition of the genocide and other atrocities being committed by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza and her call for accountability. “

“In a political landscape often marked by lip service or even silence, this kind of leadership is invaluable.”

Senator Fatima Payman flanked by LMA President Hafez Alameddine, Mayor of Canterbury-Bankstown Bilal El-Hayek and LMA Secretary Gamel Kheir.

LMA Secretary Gamel Kheir described Senator Payman as “a hero of the community.”

“We extend our heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Senator Payman for her steadfast and unflinching commitment to justice,” Mr Kheir said.

“We also thank her sincerely for taking time out of her very busy schedule to visit us in Sydney.”

“Senator Payman’s visit was a source of great inspiration and reinforcement of our shared goals and values.”

Senator Payman  commented: “It is an honour for me to be here with my brothers from the LMA and I want to thank the LMA for supporting me.”

“And a huge, huge thank you to the LMA for standing in solidarity with the Palestinians and for everything they do for the community in various ways.”