Politics

Channel 7 Legit Made And Deleted A Poll Asking If Yassmin Abdel-Magied Should Leave Australia

The poll was posted on Facebook twice but now Channel 7 says it was a mistake.

Have you had your daily dose of “I’m so embarrassed of this country?” If not, here it is. After an onslaught of online criticism, Channel 7 has just removed their Facebook poll debating whether engineer, author and former ABC presenter Yassmin Abdel-Magied should leave Australia for London, or should “stay and face her critics”.

The poll, which has been posted twice on Channel 7’s Facebook page since Tuesday, was criticised by commenters online for encouraging racist comments and bullying Abdel-Magied — who is a human person, in case people have forgotten. Abdel-Magied herself has said the poll invited “prejudice and discrimination”, and after removing it Channel 7 sheepishly admitted to News.com.au that “it should never have been posted”.

Earlier this year Abdel-Magied was subject to one of the most insane media witch hunts in Australian history after she wrote a controverisal seven-word response to Anzac Day on her Facebook page. Though she amended the post and promptly apologised, Abdel-Magied endured weeks of criticism in the press, including a public petition to get her fired from her presenting job at the ABC. Recently, after cautiously re-entering the public sphere, Abdel-Magied announced she would be leaving Australia for London — and seemed particularly excited to leave Australia behind for a bit, fair fucking enough.

Unsurprisingly the news has been met with a fair bit of criticism from pundits who are loathed to lose their regular punching bag. But thankfully the response on Twitter (and from many in Channel 7’s Facebook comments), both to Abdel-Magied’s departure and to the disgraceful poll, has been overwhelmingly in support of the writer and activist.

Before it was removed, people who voted in the poll, aside from spewing a lot of racist BS in the comments, had overwhelmingly voted that Abdel-Madgied should “stay and face her critics”. Which is pretty interesting considering how often people, including Senator Eric Abetz, have told her to move away, like, say, to “an Arab dictatorship“. Mixed messages, you guys.

Obviously the point here is that it’s nobody’s bloody business what country Abdel-Magied, a human adult woman with agency and the right to go where she pleases, chooses to live in.

After weeks of abuse following the Anzac Day incident, Abdel-Magied finally spoke out about her mistreatment in a series of heart-rending tweets, explaining how she was “traumatised” by the attacks against her. She called out the abuse she received as “deeply racist”, noting, “I thought I had outperformed my identity. Gosh, I was mistaken”.

She also “re-entered the ring“, as she put it, to take on Senator Abetz’s appallingly xenophobic “Arab dictatorship” comment. While it’s incredibly impressive that Abdel-Madied has the strength and gumption to jump back into the fray after being targeted so rigorously, it’s not actually her responsibility to clap back at her  critics.

Just because she has a public profile, and happens to be an Australian Muslim woman, does not mean she needs to shoulder the burden of Islamophobic attitudes. She’s simply a woman trying to do her job in the face of some pretty significant hurdles.

So, let’s just let Abdel-Magied move to London and live her life without conducting a public poll on whether or not it’s “a good move for her”, hey? Great.

Update: Yahoo7 contacted Junkee on the afternoon of 5 July 2017 with the following statement:

The poll regarding Yassmin Adbel-Magied was posted by the Yahoo7 online news team, which administers the 7News Australia Facebook page, together with 7News. It was posted to genuinely create discussion around a balanced article and it was never the intention to generate inappropriate commentary on social media. We accept this was an error of judgement, the post has been removed and we unreservedly apologise to anyone offended.

Matilda Dixon-Smith is Junkee’s Staff Writer. She tweets at @mdixonsmith.