Australian commentator jokes about wanting to ‘run over’ outspoken Muslim
A conservative commentator on Sydney’s 2GB radio station has joked about wanting to “run over” Yassmin Abdel-Mageid, after the Sudanese-Australian engineer detailed death threats and rape threats she had received while in Australia.
Former journalist Prue MacSween made the comments on 2GB’s Chris Smith show on Wednesday, on a segment called “Smithy’s Deplorables”– a reference to the nickname adopted by supporters of Donald Trump.
Abdel-Mageid left Australia for London last week, writing that she had become “Australia’s most hated Muslim” and received daily death threats and videos of beheadings and rapes after a post made on Anzac Day was seized on by conservative media.
MacSween told Smith Abdel-Mageid’s fears might be well-founded.
“She has fled the country and is blaming all of us”, MacSween said. “She says she’s been betrayed by Australia and didn’t feel safe in her own country. Well actually she might have been right there, because if I had seen her I would have been tempted to run her over mate.”
Smith responded by laughing heartily and agreeing that Abdel-Mageid, who apologised for her Anzac Day comments, was “not really sorry”.
Responding to critics on Twitter, MacSween defended her comments as humour and free speech and attacking critics as “festering, humourless ... ferals”.
She later told News.com.au that “it’s sad people have now lost their sense of humour, we used to celebrate larrikinism in this country, celebrate free speech and sadly that’s gone”.
But critics denounced MacSween’s comments as hypocritical and encouraging violence against Abdel-Mageid.
“So what exactly is your problem with Yassmin?” asked ABC Radio National presenter Mark Bevan. “Isn’t it just her exercising free speech too?”
Smith broadcast an apology on his show after listeners complained about the segment.
“I laughed over the top of it at the time so I didn’t hear exactly what she said,” he said. “Suffice to say it was meant in a light-hearted non-literal fashion and we’re hardly ever going to encourage people to run someone over ... If it’s upset people we apologise. That’s not what I would intend for her [Abdel-Mageid].”
In the original segment, MacSween also referred to Abdel-Mageid as a “flea” who was both “irrelevant and dangerous”.
“We don’t even give this flea a second thought anymore since she slinked away from this country in disgrace ... She’s quite irrelevant but she’s dangerous ... we’re actually one of the most tolerant [countries], so I’m glad she hates us.”
McSween, a former radio host and contestant on Celebrity Apprentice Australia, has been a regular guest on Smith’s “Deplorables” segment, appearing since February.
Three of Smith’s last five segments have featured the same guest: Sky News presenter Rowan Dean, who on Sunday told Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane to “go back to Laos”.
Abdel-Mageid initially attracted the anger of News Corporation and conservative commentators after she posted on Anzac Day: “Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…).”
Despite apologising, she said an estimated “90,000 twisted words” had been written about her in the three months since April. The producer of the Chris Smith show and 2GB have been contacted for comment.