Q&A and ABC apologise to Muslim community for breaching its ABC values (Open letter)

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Dear Q&A and ABC,

We, Muslim community leaders, activists, academics, community members, and, organisations and leaders against fascism and racism would like to submit a formal complaint against last night's Q&A episode featuring Jacqui Lambie.

We believe this episode was in significant breach of the ABC values of “Respect We treat our audiences and each other with consideration and dignity.”, and “Integrity We act with trustworthiness, honesty and fairness”, that your organisation prides itself on. 

Q&A also was in breach of its own aim to "provides a safe environment where people can respectfully discuss their differences".

Lambie made a number of comments which are considered, by any measure, racist, Islamophobic and crude, and constitute racial abuse and bullying that would not be allowed at your workplace, the ABC, and would not be allowed at any of our workplaces, educational institutions or public spaces.

To illustrate this with examples, Lambie used undignifying, demeaning slurs that were personal attacks against Abdel-Magied and her integrity as a Muslim woman, such as when she said:

“So you can be a sharia law supporter and be half-pregnant at the same time, C’mon”,

“Stop playing the victim, stop playing the victim, we’ve had enough”,

“Your ban got lifted, get over it”,

“It hasn’t hurt you at all”.

Another example is when asked if her speech is hateful she admitted:

“To a minority, well if that’s a minority, but this is for the majority, this is what the majority want”. Here, there was an opportunity to stand for ABC’s values, yet the moderator, Jones did not interject to uphold the values of respect and fairness and remind her that hateful speech is not allowed on the TV network, or is it? Something we trust ABC to be clear about.

Upon re-watching the episode, we have not found any instance where Abdel-Magied attacked Jackie Lambie as a person, maintaining the values and purpose of the show to debate the ideas and answer the questions around the topic, and yet it would have been justified for her to defend herself and call Lambie outright for the racism she was espousing.

The moderator, Jones, instead, requested Yassmin to stop shouting as it is ‘unhelpful’, (later clarifying that he is asking both to stop) but made no attempt to acknowledge the reasons behind Abdel-Magied’s frustration and legitimate concern at the bigotry she was forced to respond to.

We want to point out the power asymmetry between Yassmin, a 25 year old activist, and Lambie, a senior senator occupying a position of power and authority. It is not Abdel-Magied or any one Muslim’s responsibility to stand up to abuse alone.

If Q&A wants to invite Muslim individuals to its forum, it should be able to guarantee a safe environment for them based on trustworthiness and comfort to speak in a platform that is rarely afforded to them, especially on issues concerning them.

Lambie has the Parliament House, news outlets and press conferences as platforms to express her irresponsible and harmful views, whereas Muslim youth are largely underrepresented and their voice often absent from conversations about Muslims in this country.  

We wish to remind Q&A that Yassmin’s appearance in itself is brave as it puts her in danger of being a target to online fascists who are relentless in attacking public Muslim Australian figures, and particularly Muslim females (who are at the forefront of “debate”).

Whilst you may view last night as an opportunity to boost ratings at the expense of fairness and respect to panelists, and members of minority communities, we view the bullying that occurred on last night’s TV show as a clear example of further deterrence for Muslim youth to engage in public platforms, given that their rights to feel safe, be respected and have a fair chance to express themselves is continually undermined and undefended by the ABC in instances like this.

We demand an apology from Q&A for its poor handling of the debate and for its failure to uphold its values of respect and integrity, as giving unchallenged airtime to racial and ethno-religious abuse fills individuals with hate to commit serious crimes against Muslims.

Islamophobia should not be tolerated, not in any workplace, and not in any forum.

Thank you,

Signed:

 

Australian Islamic Mission (AIM)

La Trobe University Islamic Society

Islamophobia Watch Australia

Famsy Victoria

Australia Says No To Trump

Sara Saleh - Human rights advocate and community member

Samah Sabawi - Author, playwright and PhD candidate, Victoria University

Azmeena Hussain - Senior Associate

Hanan Dover - Clinical and Forensic Psychologist

Ramia Sultan - Lawyer

Dalya Ayoub - Life Matters Academy

Ferdos Elsabaa - Community support worker, Mercy Mission.

Tasnim Sammak - Teacher, Muslim youth representative

Aseel Sammak - Vice-president, Famsy Victoria

Dr Umber Rind - GP

Nada Kalam - Engineer

Lina Ayoubi - Chaplain

Alev Girgin - Lawyer

Fatima Dennoui - Lawyer

Tess Dimos - Environment and Social Justice Officer, Monash University

Jasmine Duff - Environment and Social Justice Officer, Monash University

Dr. Sayed Sheriffdeen - Teacher

Dr. Stephanie Jury - Monash University

Umulalthum Sheeqey - Vice President, La Trobe Student Union

Jasmine Ouaida - Youth worker

Sharifa A Tartoussi - Co founder of Griffinspeak

Kamilah Ashraf - Community worker

Wanida Hammoude - Graphic Design Manager

Manal Shehab - Author

Huda Ashraf - Mental Health Clinician

Sumayyah Tirris - Director, Tooba Projects

Annto Hassen - Community member

Amanda Davies - Community member

Somayra Ismailjee - Community member

Lisa Tribuzio - Community member

Lynne Healey - Volunteer at Islamic Museum of Australia

Naema Hersi - Community member

Sherene Hassan - Community member

Fatima Halloum - Community member

Fatima Badra - Community member

Safiyah Muyeen - Community member

Memdi Buday - Community member

Claudia Sirdah - Community member

Khursheed Ashraf - Community member

Aminah Vanderdrift - Community member

Monique Brennan - Community member

Kirsty Balla - Data Entry Coordinator

Maryam Abul Waffa - Medical Receptionist

Halima Oueida - Concerned Grandma

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