The public attack on Muslim youth activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied over her views on Sharia law has intensified with the launch of a campaign calling for her ABC employment contract to be terminated.
Right-wing Altcon News Group’s online petition in support of the public condemnation and sacking of the “taxpayer funded” ABC television presenter has attracted more than 23,000 signatures in five days.
Ms Abdel-Magied attracted scoffing from the audience on Q&A last week when she claimed
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) February 13, 2017
The debate sparked a number of personal attacks on 25-year-old Abdel-Magied, with criticism across various media platforms ridiculing her views on Sharia law.
It also prompted a caricature by controversial cartoonist Bill Leak, published in The Australian on Friday, which critics have dubbed “offensive”.
Leak sketched Ms Abdel-Magied on a taxpayer-funded overseas trip to a Muslim country, depicting her posing for a selfie beside a woman being stoned.
Leak was investigated in 2016 by the Human Rights Commission for an alleged breach of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, over a cartoon depicting a drunk Aboriginal father unable to recall the name of his son. The complaint was later withdrawn.
Australian Muslim Women’s Association president Silma Ihram said she feared the extent of backlash following Ms Abdel-Magied’s comments about Sharia law was due to her being a “strong woman” coupled with her “African” appearance.
“I am concerned that as soon as you have a Muslim who is not passive, who is passionate and also black, their beliefs appear to generate so much hostility,” Ms Ihram said.
“What the cartoon shows is that The Australian is holding down those women trying to promote Islam living differently to the way DAESH and other extremists present Islam.”
Ms Ihram told The New Daily that Sharia law has increasingly been portrayed in a “frightening” light by often being associated with extremism.
“Many of the Muslims who are in the media spotlight get trolled. There’s a hate mentality. People don’t want to hear the truth,” she said.
“The vast majority of Sharia law applies to how you fast, how you pray and how you conduct yourself personally – how you look after your neighbours and how you treat your family.
“People who practice Sharia law are being made to look like extremists but those guys – DAESH/ISIS – are thugs who are using our religion to destroy any true understanding of what Islam is.”
Ms Abdel-Magied stood by her comments following her Q&A appearance and posted an explanatory video through Junkee to clarify her religious views.
In the video, Ms Abdel-Magied says Sharia is “not a system of laws” that all Muslims are required to obey.
WTF is Sharia Law anyway? Yassmin Abdel-Magied from Q&A breaks it down (cc: Jacqui Lambie).Read more: http://bit.ly/1pOykbF
Posted by Junkee on Tuesday, 14 February 2017
“The Quran clearly states that there is no compulsion in religion, so a proper implementation of Sharia doesn’t ever force anyone to follow its rules,” she said.
“I can’t use Sharia as an excuse to get out of a speeding ticket, no matter how hard I try. In fact, I’m religiously obligated to follow Australian law.
“I said that Islam was a feminist religion and some people found that hard to understand. But what is really important to understand is the difference between religion and culture.
“Some countries run by Muslims are violent and sexist and do oppress their citizens. But again, that’s not down to Sharia, that’s down to the culture and the patriarchy and the politics of those particular countries.”
Ms Abdel-Magied chose not to respond to The New Daily‘s attempts at obtaining comment.