Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s relationship with Australia is akin to how one might feel toward an abusive boyfriend. That’s what she told presenters on Channel Ten’s The Project last night.
The former Queensland Young Australian of the Year, was caught up in a string of public controversies earlier in the year, which left her “traumatised” and dismayed in the country she calls home.
Now living in London, Abdel-Magied was asked whether she misses Australia.
“It is hard. It is dating like … an abusive guy,” she said. “You love a lot of things about them, but they hurt you deep. So what do you do? What do you tell people? Do you tell them about the great times you had. How grateful you were for all of the good stuff or tell them they traumatised you in a way that you will never be the same for?”
On Anzac Day this year, Abdel-Magied put up a Facebook post which very quickly caught fire. She appealed to Australians to use the day of remembrance to consider refugees on Manus and Nauru as well as those fleeing persecution from Syria and Palestine. It read: “Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)”.
The post was perhaps ill-timed, but the backlash that followed (despite Abdel-Magied’s quick removal of the tweet and apology for any offence caused) was deafening.
Following an on-air appearance with 2GB, media commentator Prue MacSween said she felt “tempted to run over” Abdel-Magied for the comments.
Barnaby Joyce suggested that the ABC take a tougher stance against Abdel-Magied and her part-time presenting role with the broadcaster’s Australia Wide program—subsequently axed.
Liberal Senator, Eric Abetz proposed that Abdel-Magied “stop being a drain on the taxpayer” and move to an Arab dictatorship.
And the public vitriol that followed for months was truly unprecedented.
— Crikey.com.au (@crikey_news) April 27, 2017
“There was quite a long period of time afterwards that I didn’t say anything in public because everyone was like, ‘Just ride it out. There is nothing that you can say that will make it better’ Abdel-Magied said.
But there is a glimmer of a silver lining that Abdel-Magied takes from this situation and the trauma she’s been subjected to. Referring to herself as ‘the most publicly hated Muslim’ in the country, she says she’s in the refreshing position of having “no shits left to give”.
“I am in a place where I am like, well, they took everything away from me. I am now someone with nothing left to lose and that is kind of amazing,” she said. “It means I can say what I want.”