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This Young Muslim Engineer Gave A Powerful Speech About Racism In Australia

"This isn't the Australia I have grown up in."

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Nada Kalam was walking in the city of Melbourne when a man started chasing her, screaming that he wanted to kill her because he was convinced she had a bomb under her hijab.

Kalam, who was born and raised in Australia, can't go for more than a few weeks without someone telling her Muslims aren't welcome in Australia, or that she should "go back to where she came from".

For the record, that's Richmond District Hospital.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale invited the 27-year-old onstage during his National Press Club address on Wednesday to share her experiences as a young Muslim woman.

Here's what she said:

"I am tired of being spoken about.

My fate in the hands of people who don't understand my contributions, my passions and my concerns.

Because more often than not, people up here on this stage and in parliament attempt to shape my future without making me a part of the conversation.

My name is Nada, and it is an honour to be on this platform to share my story.

As a young Muslim woman in this country, my right to simply exist is constantly under fire and occasionally under threat.

I am a regular victim of casual and impersonal racism, on public transport, in the supermarket, walking down the street.

It hurts no less each time.

I not only receive snide remarks in public places but have also received more violent threats.

I have been chased down the CBD streets by a man screaming that he wanted to kill me because of the apparent bomb under my hijab.

But this isn't the Australia I have grown up in.

It is not the future that we want.

Young people across the country are fighting every day to change our path. Together, we are each other's keepers.

We are each responsible for what is happening down the street, beneath the Earth's surface or across the seas.

As a community, we have become so focused on defining our differences that we have forgotten about the power we have if we work as a collective.

We Australians have a lot to be proud of.

And it is time we capitalise on our strengths, truly understand one another and create a more inclusive, innovative and relevant future for generations to come.

So, I ask today that you take the time to hear and understand others, to bring people together and to give us hope for our future."


Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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