Malcolm Turnbull

ABC has no plans to cut Yassmin Abdel-Magied, despite campaign


The campaign against Yassmin Abdel-Magied over her recent Q&A appearance has been intensifying, but SBS understands the ABC has no plans to cut ties with the activist.

A campaign against youth activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied after her appearance on Q&A last week has intensified – with a petition calling for the ABC to fire the presenter, and several News Corp columnists taking aim at the 25-year-old.

More than 13,000 people have signed the petition calling for the ABC to “condemn and fire” the Sudanese-born Australian over comments she made in Q&A last week.

The ABC has backed Ms Abdel-Magied - who has worked in presenter roles for both ABC and SBS - as well as her appearance on a program designed to encourage robust' discussion and debate.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the ABC said: "We stand by her right to appear on Q&A and share with the wider community her personal views in this capacity."

In a heated debate with Tasmanian Senator Jackie Lambie during the Q&A episode, Ms Abdel-Magied said Sharia law was a personal code and should not be considered as a legal system.

Ms Abdel-Magied, who also chairs a youth group, runs a blog, and makes media appearances as a commentator, said she thought of Islam as a feminist religion, pinning blame for misogynist, homophobic policies in Islamic countries on culture and politics, rather than religion.

Since her appearance on the ABC last week, News Corp columnists Miranda Devine and Andrew Bolt branded Ms Abdel-Magied an “apologist” for Islam – slamming a government-funded tour of the Middle East last year.

The trip, sponsored by Australian embassies in the region, was intended to showcase Australia as an open, democratic and diverse society in which Muslim’s are free to practice their faith.

Writer and TV personality Waleed Aly undertook a similar tour of the region in 2013.

Criticism of Ms Abdel-Magied’s Q&A appearance continued throughout last week.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Ms Abdel-Magied must have been “blindfolded” during her tour of the Middle East to maintain that Islam was feminist.

Controversial Australian Cartoonist Bill Leak portrayed Ms Abdel-Magied as posing for a selfie with a woman about to be stoned – her fingers pushed into the woman’s mouth, forcing her to smile.

Andrew Bolt described Ms Abdel-Magied as a “pet Muslim” of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, noting the pair were seated next to each other during an Iftar dinner for Muslim leaders at Kirribilli House last year.

A petition by the far-right media organisation ALTCON News describes Ms Abdel-Magied as “blatantly lying” and spewing “pro-Sharia propaganda”.

Somali-born Dutch anti-Islam activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote in The Australian that Ms Abdel-Magied was a “closet Islamist, in this case sympathetic to Sharia law.”

Ms Hirsi Ali quoted several sections of the Quran where women are defined as subservient to men.

Lawyer and diversity advocate Mariam Veiszadeh said the reaction to Ms Abdel-Magied’s comments has been atrocious.

“Unfortunately there appears to be a rather exclusive level of vicious and often baseless scrutiny reserved for vocal Australian women from minority backgrounds,” Ms Veiszadeh told SBS.

Mr Aly said that during his tour of the Middle East in 2013, Muslims in the region were interested in hearing about how Islamic communities function within a secular society such as Australia.

“It’s been fantastic to have this opportunity,” he said at the time.

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