Hours after Ed Husic became Australia's first ever Muslim minister, he was flooded with online racial abuse for taking oath of office on the Quran. Forty-three-year-old Husic, was appointed as parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and parliamentary secretary for broadband on Monday.
Husic, son of Bosnian migrants, was the first MP to be sworn in to federal parliament with his hand on the Quran. Husic told the media on Tuesday that he had made a "straightforward decision as someone of the Muslim faith" to take the oath on the Quran.
"I couldn't take my oath on a Bible and I didn't want to affirm. I am who I am and I just made a straightforward decision," he said.
At the official oath-taking ceremony on Monday, Australia's Governor-General Quentin Bryce said, "It was a great day for multiculturalism and everything it stands for."
However, Husic's Facebook page was soon flooded with comments saying it was "disgusting" and "un-Australian" for him to use the Quran. Husic said the attacks on his social media site were just "a natural part of democracy" and that "it's important that we not necessarily jump because of harsh words out of dark corners".
Husic said that after he accepted the "huge honour" of Rudd's offer he called his parents, who migrated to Australia from Bosnia in the 1960s, and reflected with them on his achievement.
Meanwhile, fellow Labor MP Rob Mitchell reacted angrily on Twitter to the anti-Islamic comments, saying, "appalling behaviour" against Husic "shouldn't be tolerated at all". "It is an embarrassment to decency, fairness and all we stand for," he said.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he was not familiar with the abusive comments but he respected Husic's choice to be sworn in using the Quran. "I respect his choice and I think the Australian people should as well," he said. Abbott's reaction prompted Labor MP Michelle Rowland to tweet that the Opposition Leader's comments were "extremely weak".
Many Facebook users leaped to the western Sydney MP's defence, offering congratulations on his appointment and saying he should "ignore the haters" and "racist rants".
Image: Ed Husic, the first Muslim to be elected to the Australian Parliament
Photograph: Mark Graham-Pool/Getty Images