Earlier this week, controversial Australian activist and writer Yassmin Abdel-Magied announced her move to London. Although she cited the move as ‘partaking in an Aussie rite of passage’, one wouldn’t blame her for wanting to get out of the country for a while.
In an article published by the Guardian Australia today, Abdel-Magied referred to the daily abuse and harassment she has experienced since her now infamous Anzac Day post. No human being should be subject to such horrific treatment; at times these days I feel ashamed to call myself an Australian.
Rather than delve into what she said when, or anything about her cultural background or religion, I want to focus on Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s experience as a young woman of faith with a message to share, and what this experience conveys to other young women who match that description, myself included.
Despite having a different faith, cultural background and skin colour, as I see it, I have more in common with Yassmin Abdel-Magied than most of her critics. I, too, am a young woman of faith who wants to challenge the dominant discourse associated with her religion and advocate for social justice through the medium of writing.
What Abdel-Magied’s treatment says to me, and the many other young, intelligent women who want to change the world, inspired by their faith, is this:
Don’t dare speak up about injustice or you will cop abuse.
Continue letting old men speak on your behalf, even if you disagree with them.
Tow the line or your personal integrity will be questioned.
If you offend people, you deserve vitriol and violence. Suffer silently.
How dare you have a voice!”
Many young women receiving this message from current events will be intimidated. They will stay quiet, they will tow the line. And public life will miss out on their valuable insight.
Is this the future we want for our daughters?
Yassmin Abdel-Magied, you are much maligned, but you are also our pioneer. May the voices of young women of faith remain strong.