Islamophobia and the Public Persecution of Feminist Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Yassmin Abdel-Magied

In February 2017, conservative Australian media began a sustained attack of a young feminist leader, Yassmin Abdel-Magied. That started a racist petition calling for her to be fired from ABC TV, Australia’s public broadcaster, simply for having participated in a TV panel show, Q&A, where she spoke articulately about her feminism as a Muslim-Australian woman (see the clip below). For weeks, the ABC refused to give into these racist demands.

At the same time, three One Nation candidates were running in the Western Australian election making openly racist, homophobic and sexist comments. These candidates had no political expertise, but somehow their bigotry is not offensive enough to warrant endless national debate. Yet the feminism of an educated and successful young feminist draws ire.

In late April, Abdel-Magied was subjected to further public condemnation over a brief social media post expressing her condemnation of war. One month later, a White male editor incited violence towards her employer, the ABC, and Abdel-Magied was caught in media turmoil once again. This is a case study on the deep-seated elements of Islamophobia (fear of Islam) in Australia, and its real life consequences on young women of religious and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Continue reading Islamophobia and the Public Persecution of Feminist Yassmin Abdel-Magied


“I’ll add my voice to those who are refusing to apologise for ISIS and all that, as it represents the same phenomena I argued against in White Nation. ‘Apologising for ISIS’, ‘distancing oneself from militant Islam’, making claims re how ‘most muslims are law abiding citizens’ are all varieties of the old white colonial game of integration. They are all pronouncements which, in fantasy, presume a white judging gaze that comes at the end of the utterance to say to you: ‘good boys and girls, you really are good’. Except the White colonialists never say it. they always say ‘good *but* repeat that again as I am not totally convinced’ or ‘you’re doing well, one more little effort and one more and one more’. those who enter this game never leave it. As I have said before: all what the colonialists demanding the proof of your integration want is your disintegration. The White assimilationist/integrationist who demands this apology and this distancing should be told in a one hundred percent genuinely Australian way to go and fuck themselves. believe me there is no other way to stop them. If they can’t understand they obviously need to try a little bit harder themselves.”

— Ghassan Hage


Next time a white person accuses you of , ask them if they have two and a half minutes to watch this

It’s great to see this video going around: Aamer Rahman is a brilliant comedian. This video humorously captures why “reverse racism” makes no sense.

Every culture holds positive and negative stereotypes of their own group as well as other groups. A stereotype is a mental attitude or belief. This is not racism. Racism is a concept that describes institutional processes that are linked to historical social relations. A racist statement by a member of a privileged or majority group carries power and the threat of violence because institutional processes ensure minorities are marginalised. Racism is locked to a system of discrimination at school, work, in the media, in politics and through other social institutions. The false concept of reverse racism ignores these institutional experiences of oppression.

Research by sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and colleagues shows that the idea of “reverse racism” is prevalent amongst White people who hold two paradoxical beliefs: 1) Society hasn’t really got a problem with racism, 2) Minorities get special privileges because of their heritage. White people today mostly understand that saying negative things about minorities is not acceptable. So in interviews, they will talk about their racist relatives, without thinking of themselves as racist. They will share one off examples where they’ve had a positive encounter with a Person of Colour. Yet their negative experiences with minorities take on a different meaning. The positive is an example of a “good” individual. The negative example is an indictment of the entire minority group. So, white people will say things say things like:

I have, I just have a problem with the discrimination, you’re gonna discriminate against a group and what happened in the past is horrible and it should never happen again, but I also think that to move forward you have to let go of the past and let go of what happened um, you know?

Reverse racism is an attempt to be ahistorical. White people will evoke this concept when they say they don’t understand why some minorities (People of Colour who experienced colonialism) still talk about racism when other White groups aren’t “allowed” to talk about “racism.”

those that say we should pay them because they were slaves back in the past and yet, how often do you hear about the people who were whites that were slaves and the white that were, ah? Boy, we should get reparations, the Irish should get reparations from the English… 

A common idea underlying the “reverse racism” discourse is that White people today shouldn’t have to pay for the oppression that happened in the past. (As if social relations today aren’t correlated with history and as if oppression is not longer happening.):

Me, as [a] white person, I had nothing to do with slavery. You, as a black person, you never experienced it. It was so long ago I just don’t see how that pertains to what’s happening to the race today, so that’s one thing that I’m just like “God, shut up!”

White people feel disconnected to historical processes because these relations don’t affect their present-day life outcomes. Conversely, whenever they see minorities getting ahead in life, they presume it’s due to “reverse racism” rather than individual merit:

No, other than I have applied at jobs and been turned down because I was white. Now, I have nothing against the black person [if he] was qualified better than I was. But when the guy comes into the interview, and I’m off on the side and I can hear them talking, and he can’t even speak English, he doesn’t know how to read a map, and they’re gonna make him a bus driver and hire him over me… I know why he got the job, and I don’t think that’s fair. 

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and colleagues argue that the “reverse racism” narrative is a safe way for White people to air out racist ideals without thinking of themselves as racist. This is also known as “colour blind racism.”

Sociologists have a difficult time teaching White students about social privilege because the social benefits of Whiteness are difficult for people to “see” when they are part of the majority. See my previous post which also has some excellent resources to better understand this phenomena in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

Check out more of Rahman’s stand up via Fear of a Brown Planet, a comedy duo also featuring Nazeem Hussain. I’ve seen Fear live a couple of times. Their comedy deals with political themes (for example Australia’s refugee policies, the Cronulla Riots), but they also have incredibly funny observations about life, family, and my favourite ever reminiscence on Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Watch Fear of a Brown Planet on Australian Story below. It’s a great insight into their comedy and the barriers they face as Australian-Muslims. Speaking of “reverse racism” when I tweeted my love for the episode below, I had a random person write to me on Twitter telling me it was the Australian Story ever because – presumably – reverse racism. Hmmm…

“There Are No Unclean People, Only Unclean Systems”: The Sociology of Religion and the Delivery of Social Justice

By Zuleyka Zevallos, PhD

The Atlantic has followed Rev. Tuck Taylor, a mother of two and an ordained elder of the United Methodist Church in North Carolina, USA. She is one of “thousands” of citizens who have coordinated a series of civil disobedience protests against various social welfare issues. They call their protest “Moral Monday,” a designated day where citizens descend upon official public buildings to protest using music, speeches and prayer. Ordinary citizens, academics and clerics volunteer to lead the protests and nominate themselves to be arrested in order to protest diverse concerns such as cuts to unemployment and health assistance, taxes and repeal of environmental measures.

While the Reverend may lose her job with her Church, she sees that it is her civil and religious duty to voice her discontent with her local government. The Reverend says:

“There are no unclean people — only unclean systems.”

This is a great case study for studying the intersections of the sociology of religion and the sociology of politics. Continue reading “There Are No Unclean People, Only Unclean Systems”: The Sociology of Religion and the Delivery of Social Justice

SBS News features Mark Gonzales, a Muslim revert. He is a Mexican-American who converted to Islam from Catholicism. He is a poet and Professor at Stanford University. He’s in Sydney conducting a series on “leveraging social power. This is an interesting interview, although the reporter indulges in a religious slur, calling Gonzales a "radical” – a term that journalists generally use to put down activists and which has a specifically negative connotation for Muslims. Nevertheless, Gonzales’ story is engaging. 

Via: SBS News.

Dangerous Ignorance: Madonna Calls Obama a “Black Muslim”

By Zuleyka Zevallos

During a recent concert, Madonna lent her support to the re-election of USA President Obama and praised his support for gay rights. All highly commendable. The problem is that she reproduces the myth that Obama is a “Black Muslim.” Madonna’s heart seems in the right place; she is encouraging voting and, on the surface, “tolerance.” Unfortunately, her lack of awareness about the politics of race in America has led Madonna to inadvertently buy into the “birther” movement. Birther conspiracy theorists argue that Obama is hiding his true birthplace from the American public. Obama’s “foreign sounding” name (read: non-Anglo sounding) and the fact that his father was born in Nigeria helped fuel the the idea that Obama was born overseas and that he is Muslim. Birthers demanded the President show his birth certificate, despite the fact that he was born in the American state of Hawaii. By claiming him to be a foreigner and a Muslim, birthers hoped to remove Obama from office. By inadvertently perpetuating an element of this discourse, Madonna displays an alarming disconnect with American politics. My argument is about the deep seated power of racism – which creeps into every day consciousness as taken-for-granted “facts.”

Continue reading Dangerous Ignorance: Madonna Calls Obama a “Black Muslim”

Everyday Hybridity: Olympics approach, Ramadan makes it more difficult for Muslim athletes


There has been quite a bit of coverage about the female Saudi football team being allowed to compete in the Olympics. This fight has been watched closely, especially by human rights advocates and all of those championing women’s rights in the Saudi Kingdom. The Guardian reports that even those…

Everyday Hybridity: Olympics approach, Ramadan makes it more difficult for Muslim athletes