WOAH, Solange Just Backed Yassmin Abdel-Magied In This Crazy ‘Q&A’ Controversy
Also, Tony Abbott just spoke out against her.
If you didn’t watch it, on Q&A this week Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie declared that supporters of Sharia law should not be allowed in Australia. Author, engineer and activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied challenged Lambie’s views on Islam asking her: “Do you know what Sharia law is?”
The exchange was heated and the ABC has faced strong criticism from both sides. A number of Muslim Australians (including human rights advocate Sara Saleh, playwright Samah Sabawi, and vice-president of the Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth Aseel Sammak) have signed a petition arguing the station breached its values of respect and integrity by broadcasting racist and crude arguments. “Lambie used undignified, demeaning slurs that were personal attacks against Abdel-Magied and her integrity as a Muslim woman,” they wrote.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) February 13, 2017
Yassmin Abdel-Magied has received an unprecedented amount of backlash from this too. This week The Australian ran front-page story criticising her for travelling to the Middle East on a government-funded tour to promote Australia. In federal parliament, One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts referred to her as an “Islamist activist” and asked the Attorney-General to confirm if her travel to the Middle East was funded by the government.
Abdel-Magied also did a video for Junkee on Tuesday, explaining what Sharia law actually is, which has racked up over three million views (and bizarrely, been shared on alt-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos’ blog).
Then last night, something incredible happened. Solange Knowles, without any links or explanation, said that Yassmin Abdel-Magied had made her morning.
Yassmin Abdel Magied….
You made my morning
— solange knowles (@solangeknowles) February 16, 2017
It’s unclear what prompted this, but obviously this is a big deal for several reasons: one of which being that Solange is a vocal advocate for the rights of people of colour and another being that she’s a very cool famous person.
Unfortunately, this morning The Australian still felt compelled to continue their campaign against Abdel-Magied, this time asking known protector of women’s rights Tony Abbott, to critique her comments about Islam being one of the most “feminist religions”.
Why anyone would ask Tony Abbott to give insight into the Muslim female experience seems absolutely ludicrous, but we’ll leave that for the moment. Oh wait, the story claims that “Mr Abbott commended The Australian for bringing ‘common sense to this discussion””. That’s probably why, huh.
In this article, Abbott says: “If she’s right that ‘Islam is a feminist religion’, how come such terrible things are done to women in its name?” He claimed that Abdel-Magied “must have been wearing a blindfold on her taxpayer-funded tour” and was obviously incorrect in her comments on Q&A. The Australian also quoted Senator Lambie saying, “I’ve been told by [a] person who came to visit me, and I trust and respect very much, that these Muslim women have been emboldened and given hope by my public comments.”
They also published a disgustingly offensive cartoon by Bill Leak (of course) that I won’t post here.
If you are feeling very downtrodden about all of this, you are not alone. Abbott using women’s rights as an avenue to criticise Islam — when he didn’t seem particularly enthusiastic about advocating these rights when he was in office — is incredibly frustrating.
As Junkee’s political editor, Osman Faruqi, wrote yesterday: “Unfortunately, the likely takeaway from this saga will be that if you’re a young Muslim who wants to defend their religion, or even just participate in political and social debates, you should sit down and remember your place or face the wrath of conservative media and politicians.
“The debate between Abdel-Magied and Lambie could have remained just that, a debate between people on a panel show that revolves around conflict and disagreement. But in the current political environment, where Muslims are used as punching bags by an ascendant far-right, it became a reminder that regardless of how ‘moderate’ or ‘Australian’ a Muslim is, they’re still a Muslim.”
The angle of today’s attack — that Abdel-Magied is inherently anti-feminist as a Muslim woman and supports systems that oppress women — further galvanises this message. The intended takeaway is obvious: if you are a young woman, you will be attacked for having a dissenting opinion. If you are a young woman of colour, you and your opinions are considered so threatening that you will be belittled, punished and made an example of.