• Pauline Hanson revisits the Ipswich fish and chip shop she famously used to call her own in the SBS documentary 'Pauline Hanson: Please Explain' (SBS)Source: SBS
Pauline Hanson's made her stance on immigration and halal certification very clear, but that's not what bothers the scholar and former Liberal party candidate Irfan Yusuf.
Irfan Yusuf

21 Jul 2016 - 5:05 PM  UPDATED 1 Aug 2016 - 9:54 AM

Dear Pauline,


My name is Irfan. You might find it hard to pronounce my rather exotic “Christian” name which I share with some very exotic people including Bosnian-born software engineer Irfan Skiljan, Dutch-born footballer Irfan Bachdim, British-born diplomat Irfan Siddiq and Indian-born cricketer Irfan Pathan. I wish I could claim their intelligence or athleticism.

I can, however, claim to have been a lawyer advising or representing hundreds of domestic violence victims and accused perpetrators in Victoria, New South Wales and your home state of Queensland. My clients have mostly been female victims of violence committed mostly by husbands or male partners or fathers or brothers - by men from all different racial, religious and other backgrounds. The violence has been physical, emotional, sexual and financial. The victims have included children.

Among the places I worked were Mackay, central Queensland and the Whitsundays. In these holiday destinations, I saw the misery of family breakup, of cashed-up men seeking advice from solicitors across town so their wives couldn’t obtain advice from the same lawyer and would have to travel 3 or 4 hours away just to obtain information about their rights.

I think your views on the domestic violence and family law systems are misplaced

I think your views on the domestic violence and family law systems are misplaced. Come and visit some of the places I have worked in your home state and see Australian women too afraid to stay in their homes let alone walk in the streets. Their fear is not terrorists. Their fear is from the men who claim to love them and their children. 

Your Party’s policy document states that without changes to the family law system "we will see the continual rise of domestic violence and suicide and murders associated with custody battles".

You also told reporters in June 2016 that women “are making frivolous complaints” and that “domestic violence against males “is very widely spread”.

You yourself were a victim of domestic violence

What will shock so many DV victims is that you make such comments while you yourself were a victim of domestic violence. You of all people should know that there can be many causes for domestic violence but no excuses.  

I’ve seen a fair few frivolous applications in my time. From men and women. But speaking as a bloke, I can’t deny that the research and most reliable statistics show my kind (men) have committed more acts of violence against their partners than women. Domestic violence affects all Australians regardless of their ethnicity or the language they speak at home or their religious background.

Speaking of which, I guess you are expecting me to talk about your views on Islam, Islamism. Ideology, terrorism and all that stuff. After all, I have a "Muslim" name (whatever that is) and I’m not exactly Caucasian (yep, no Chechen or Georgian blood flows through my veins).

It really doesn’t bother me if you don’t like the religious and cultural background of my ancestors

Seriously, Pauline, it really doesn’t bother me if you don’t like the religious and cultural background of my ancestors.

What I do care about is when you and others like you (including newspaper columnists and Coalition politicians who share your views) use the same language about Muslim migrants as was used against Jewish migrants seeking to migrate here during the 1940's.

Maybe you should order a copy of a book called Lines in the Sand* and go to the 6th chapter written by Geoffrey Brahm Levey and A Dirk Moses. They speak about Australian reactions to Immigration Minister Arthur Calwell’s proposal to allow 2,000 Jewish refugees from the Nazi Holocaust into Australia. These Jews were accused of having terrorist sympathies with groups fighting the British Mandate forces in Palestine.

You use the same language about Muslim migrants as was used against Jewish migrants seeking to migrate here during the 1940's

In July 1946, a terrorist group in Palestine bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Prior to this, terrorists had assassinated senior British military officials. Australia saw itself as part of the declining British Empire, and assaults on British troops were seen as assaults on Australia. In those days, Jewish refugees were seen as potential terrorists. These sentiments didn’t just appear in letters to Prime Minister such as this one:

“In view of this cutting and recent outrage in Palestine will you issue instructions that no more Jews be allowed into Australia. It is public knowledge that the Minister for Immigration favours Jews and Jews in Melbourne boast that they can obtain any assistance from him. Alien Jews are nearly all Zionists and are against we British.”

They also appeared in popular publications which claimed that Jews would be disloyal. Similarly, the Liberal Member for Henty in Victoria, H.B. Gullett, for instance, declared:

“We are not compelled to be a dumping ground for people whom Europe has not been able to absorb for 2000 years.”

If anyone should be afraid to walk the streets at night for fear of terrorist attack, it should be Muslims.

History is now repeating itself. You are judging Muslims as terror suspects and as (a tiny minority of) terrorists. But what about victims? In the recent Bastille Day attack in Nice, around one third of the victims were Muslim. Most ISIL victims in Iraq and Syria are Muslims. Most victims of terror attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan are Muslim.

Statistically speaking, if anyone should be afraid to walk the streets at night for fear of terrorist attack, it should be Muslims. And if anyone should be afraid of violent hate-crimes, it should be Muslims. Or Sikhs. Or Orthodox Jews. Or Indian students. Or anyone else who looks a bit Muslimish. Or not so Muslimish.

I’ll end this letter with a warning. You recall members of the Liberal right wing sought to have you imprisoned. That shouldn’t be your biggest fear.

Your biggest fear should be that they steal your policies in order so that they look like you and steal your voters.

The best way you can avoid this is to dump all this far-Right anti-indigenous anti-Asian anti-Muslim anti-whoever-is-next nonsense. Be defined by what you stand for, not by who you don’t like.

- Irfan Yusuf 


*(2009) Gregory Noble (ed), Institute of Criminology Press

Irfan Yusuf is a former domestic violence duty lawyer, a former Liberal Party federal candidate, an award-winning author and a PhD scholar.​


See more of Pauline, her commentators and the infamous fish and chip shop where it all began in Pauline Hanson: Please Explain! Available to view at SBS On Demand now.

Or watch it right here:

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