Muslim activist and television host Yassmin Abdel-Magied has courted controversy with an Anzac Day Facebook post suggesting Australians should also remember the suffering on Manus Island and Nauru, and in Syria and Palestine.
The presenter of ABC’s weekend program Australia Wide wrote: “LEST. WE. FORGET. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine ???)”
She later removed the post and apologised after other Facebook users complained she had politicised the memorial day.
The 26-year-old Muslim youth activist removed the last portion of her original post, leaving the words, “Lest we forget”.
“It was brought to my attention that my last post was disrespectful, and for that, I apologise unreservedly,” Abdel-Magied wrote.
However, her retraction caused further outrage.
“It was brought to your attention??? Are you not able to work that out for yourself? Did you have to be told? Do you know anything about the history of the ANZACs? Do you even care? Because if you did, you would have known better than to make today about your agenda. And your nasty followers who attacked anyone who told you so are just as traitorous,” Terri Dunn wrote.
Pete Bland wrote: “Disrespectful is an understatement Yassmin.”
“There is no taking back what you originally wrote, I am disgusted. And people like you just can’t help yourselves, hey guess what the whole world doesn’t actually revolve around you! Today means a lot to true Australians, myself included and you over stepped the line, so disrespectful,” Shana Bloomer said.
Amid the online vitriol, some suggested she leave Australia.
“I’m glad you’ve apologised, as you VERY well should! It’s extremely inappropriate to cheapen the memory of their sacrifices, by mixing it with other issues. It’s a despicable act to mix other issues on this day,” David Metcalf wrote.
“While I don’t expect you to go and buy a digger a beer today, I really do hope you’ll go educate yourself and show some respect for the people who died to give you the privileges you enjoy today. If you can’t learn and appreciate their sacrifices, please do find somewhere else to live.”
Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz also criticised Abdel-Magied’s Facebook post.
“Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s unfortunate and disrespectful Facebook post today, of all days, is deeply reprehensible,” he said in a statement.
“Tens of thousands of Australians, from all walks of life, have gone to war and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Today, we pay tribute to them – not seek to use their sacrifice for cheap political point scoring as Ms Abdel-Magied has done.
“The freedom she enjoys to make such disrespectful comments is what the people whom we commemorate today fought and died for. But that is where self-discipline, respect and decency need to be added into the equation, something Ms Abdel-Magied has displayed she lacks.”
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said Abdel-Magied’s first Facebook comment was a “disgrace”.
“It is a disgrace that on our most significant national day to mark the passing of people who have defended this country, this advocate seeks to make political mileage,” Mr Dutton said.
Yet, some jumped to Abdel-Magied’s defence.
“Although I didn’t appreciate your previous post, and am glad you changed it – your wish to remember the plight of many peoples shows your good heart. Thank you for being you, and for standing against the wave of Australian racism,” Rebecca Koch wrote.
“She was intending to remind us that not all of Australia or its citizens yet enjoy the freedom the ANZACs gained for us.”
David Hoens said: “Today we remember the brave men and women of Australia who went to fight against the atrocities committed by others last century … and today of all days we should remember Australia is committing similar atrocities today!”
Former SBS sports reporter Scott McIntyre was sacked in 2015 after tweeting controversial opinions about the Anzac legacy.
Deakin University historian Dr Carolyn Holbrook said Anzac Day functioned “as a kind of secular religion these days”.
“It has many features of a faith, and what happens is that the figure – the Anzac legend – is sacred,” Dr Holbrook said.
“Anzac is sacred for many Australians, and if someone dares to question it ??? then they cop the consequences of it.”
Abdel-Magied triggered fierce debate when she defended her faith in a much-publicised verbal stoush on ABC’s Q&A program with Tasmanian Senator Jacquie Lambie over the meaning of Sharia law.
The infamous exchange prompted right-wing news site Altcon News to launch a petition demanding the ABC “publicly condemn and fire” Abdel-Magied.
Tens of thousands of people signed it. Former prime minister Tony Abbott also criticised Abdel-Magied’s feminist defence of Sharia.
Abdel-Magied was born in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, before her family migrated to Australia. She went to school in Brisbane, where she helped launch a network for community-minded teens called Youth Without Borders, before graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Queensland.
Fairfax Media is attempting to reach Abdel-Magied for comment.