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Thousands call Australia ‘home’

MORE than 2,400 new citizens gathered at Dunc Gray Velodrome for Australia’s largest citizenship ceremony last Friday (pictured).

he City of Canterbury-Bankstown welcomed the citizens from more than 80 countries who took the pledge at Bass Hill.

Mayor Khal Asfour said he was incredibly proud to have hosted this record-breaking citizenship ceremony to see 2,400 new citizens, from across the globe, “declare that Australia is now their home”.

“Becoming an Australian citizen is a privilege. It is life-changing, and the freedoms and quality of life must never be taken lightly.”

Dr Ahmed Owais Ahmed and his family were overjoyed to have participated in the ceremony.

He arrived in Australia with his wife Nourhan Khalil and their two eldest children in 2016 – and consider themselves “proud Aussies.” Since their arrival, they’ve welcomed a third child.

Dr Ahmed originally travelled to Sydney on a postgraduate student visa to complete a Doctor of Philosophy degree in chemistry, specialising in materials chemistry and surface science. He is now a staff scientist and researcher. He migrated to Australia to complete his studies, advance his research knowledge and secure a better future for his young family.

Dr Ahmed is thrilled to become a citizen and believes most Australians really don’t know how lucky they are.

“Not only do Australians enjoy religious freedoms, but they don’t live in fear of conflict with neighbouring countries,” Dr Ahmed said.

“I’ve witnessed conflicts and wars in the middle east. Australians don’t know what it’s like to live in a war zone. Living a peaceful life with neighbouring countries is something to be very thankful for,” Dr Ahmed said.

Dr Ahmed said becoming an Australian citizen is a powerful feeling.

“It’s not just a certificate, it is much deeper than that. Being a citizen increases our place in this country, a place we would love to stay forever. It’s a very strong feeling.”

Mayor Asfour said the city represents more than 140 different languages and he is very proud that 2,400 new Australian citizens will be calling Canterbury Bankstown their “forever home.”

“I’d like to wish our new citizens a very warm welcome and every success for the future.”