Letter to Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop regarding new information on the ABDEL-MAGEID ANZAC Day social media scandal
ABDEL-MAGEID, Yassmin - offensive ANZAC Day social media post and fitness to remain on Government Boards
On 8 May 2017 you wrote to Senator Eric Abetz to advise him that “In view of Ms Abdel-Mageid’s apology” (amongst other things) you would not remove her from membership of the board of the Council for Australian Arab Relations.
You set out the background to your decision - as it relates to Ms Abdel-Mageid’s highly offensive ANZAC Day social media post:
NEW INFORMATION NOT PUT BEFORE YOU
On 8 September 2016 the US/British author Lionel Shriver gave the opening address to the Brisbane Writers Festival.
She said fiction writers should be limited only by their imaginations to create whatever stories they want, without restriction on their “cultural appropriation” of the “identity” of persons from different racial, religious, gender or cultural backgrounds from the author. - speech here
Ms Abdel Mageid was present and was incensed at Ms Shriver's speech. Abdel Mageid walked out during the talk, wrote an essay attacking Ms Shriver and demanded a Right of Reply from the organisers of the Festival - essay here.
On 10 September 2016, Ms Abdel Mageid was given the opportunity to address the Festival with her Right of Reply. Ms Abdel Mageid spoke passionately about minority groups and their right to “own" their culture - and that even by writing about it, a white person has improperly appropriated a part of that culture in a manner tantamount to theft - and certain to cause great distress.
The Right of Reply was video recorded and is posted online here.
After a discourse on “who owns” a particular “identity” and “who gets to decide on what is cultural appropriation”, Ms Abdel Mageid said,
"... I don’t know, like I feel like sometimes people get annoyed if you
want to claim anything for yourself or want to say well actually something
is sacred umm... and then, and, but I’m not able to take it the other way
around. So if I went around saying well, the ANZACS were kinda rubbish,
you know like Gallipoli, what is that, I would get crucified. I mean look
at me, I’m a brown Muslim woman. Like imagine if I went around hating on
Gallipoli? People would die. I would, like, but... anything that is
deem... that I deem as sacred, is fair game.."
In those prepared remarks delivered 7 months before Anzac Day 2017 Ms Abdel Mageid predicts precisely the impact her ANZAC day Facebook post would create. It shows considerable insight into both the significance of ANZAC Day and the reaction from the Australian public should she proceed to appropriate and misuse that identity.
“I would get crucified…..people would die” (metaphorically presumably, given it was we and not the Ottoman Caliphate that prevailed after the ANZAC’s first outing).
In September 2016 these were well developed ideas as delivered by Ms Abdel Magied, “If I went around saying the ANZACS were kinda rubbish, you know, Gallipoli, what is that, if I went around hating on Gallipoli etc etc” then she adds “but anything that I deem as sacred is fair game”.
That was precisely the construct of her ANZAC day social media post - the Syria, Manus Island, Palestine issues (deemed close to her heart) presented in the context of simultaneously “hating on” or disrespecting the ANZAC identity.
Ms Abdel Mageid misleading you and the public
At 9.42AM on Anzac Day, about 50 minutes after posting the offensive post, Ms Abdel Mageid published this apology (my emphasis):
"It was brought to my attention that my last post was disrespectful, and for that, I apologise unreservedly".
In the context of her exquisitely detailed thesis on the cultural appropriation of ANZAC Day and the consequences there of, it’s difficult to see how that apology could be sincere or truthful.
You report that Ms Abdel Magied “profusely” apologised to you and the Australian Government on being told of the Government’s “deep concerns” and of your dismay at her “highly inappropriate” post.
You report that Ms Abdel-Mageid was “mortified” that her post was seen as a reflection on and rejection of the sanctity of ANZAC Day and the sacrifice of our veterans and their families.
Ms Abdel-Mageid claims to have only intended for the post to be a reference to current global conflicts and crises.
You accepted Ms Abdel-Mageid’s apologies and explanation about her intended meaning and mortification as to being misinterpreted as truthful.
I think her September 2016 recorded, considered and public-record statement casts great doubt on the sincerity of Ms Abdel-Mageid's apology - and on the veracity of her claimed innocence and “mortification” that her post had been construed as reflecting on the sanctity of ANZAC Day.
The public and you as Minister must have confidence that appointees to Boards advising Government tell the truth and have Australia’s best interests genuinely at heart.
Perhaps you might reconsider whether Ms Abdel Mageid retains your confidence and let us know of your decision.
I propose to treat this as an open and public communication with you.
Michael P. Smith
Here is the Minister's letter to Senator Abetz detailing her reasons for not acceding to the Senator's request Ms Abdel Mageid be removed from Government Boards.