Yassmin Abdel-Magied has lashed out at Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s “deeply racist” offer to fast-track humanitarian visas for South Africa’s persecuted white farmers, saying priority should instead be given to the Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
The controversial Muslim activist and author hated all over the offer, which comes after South Africa’s parliament signalled its intention to confiscate land from white farmers without compensation, as an “absolute joke”.
South African farmers, largely from the white Afrikaner minority, have been subjected to an escalating campaign of attacks characterised by extreme brutality, rape and torture, with 82 people killed in a record 423 incidents last year.
Mr Dutton told The Daily Telegraph late Wednesday he had instructed his department to look into the issue, saying: “If you look at the footage, you hear the stories and you read the accounts, it’s a horrific circumstance that they face.
“I’ve asked my department to look at options and ways in which we can provide some assistance because I do think on the information I’ve seen people do need help, and they need help from a civilised country like ours.
“More importantly, the people we’re talking about want to work hard, they want to contribute to a country like Australia … I think these people deserve special attention and we’re applying that special attention now.”
Writing on Twitter, Ms Abdel-Magied hit out at Mr Dutton’s “racism” for appearing to suggest that white South Africans would be more law-abiding than other groups, saying “white people break the law all the time”.
“They rape, steal, terrorise … and so do brown people, black people, green people, etc,” she wrote. “No one group of people has the monopoly on ‘goodness’, ‘civilisation’ or ‘perfection’, despite what Dutton or others might say.
“This use of language isn’t new however. It harkens back to colonial times, when one group was ‘civilised’ and the other needed ‘civilising’ — often [by] force. That language? That framing? It comes from a place of assumed racial superiority, and leads down a nasty path.
“This is the same man who has refused to extend the same generosity to the Rohingya, suggesting they might be returned to Myanmar, a country accused of carrying out ethnic cleansing against the Muslim minority.
“Can someone please explain this logic? The Rohingya are literally stateless and being persecuted to the point that the UN is saying it ‘bears the hallmark of genocide’, but they aren’t talked of in the same way as the South African farmers?
“This kind of behaviour and rhetoric is so deeply racist, to call it ‘thinly veiled’ would be offensive to the term ‘thinly veiled’. Here’s the thing, Pete. Want to protect people who are being persecuted? Go for it. Not going to stop you.
“But to differentiate between those being persecuted on the basis of racist tropes, stereotypes and prejudice is shameful.
“Reading his comments, you’d think all white people ‘abide by our laws’, ‘integrate’ and aren’t living a ‘life on welfare’ (with all the classism that statement entails). Because white people never break the law. Because they never need welfare. Because they’re clearly, perfect.”
Ms Abdel-Magied added that in offering protection, “someone’s worth shouldn’t be measured on their contribution”.
“If someone is being attacked on the street with a knife, you don’t check first whether or not the person pays their taxes, works hard or ‘contributes to society’ before you step in,” she wrote.
“You try to stop them from getting hurt, no questions asked — cos you want to help. This whole idea that refugees need to be ‘good’ in order for them to be afforded protection is BS. That part isn’t in the convention. ‘They have to fear for their lives … and be a hard worker.’ Nope.”
Meanwhile, a Change.org petition created by the right-wing Australian Liberty Alliance and Australian-Israeli activist Avi Yemini calling on the government to save South African farmers has attracted more than 4000 signatures.
“We’ve been going through the crime wave in Victoria,” Mr Yemini said. “We seem to import different cultures that are not compatible with our way of life, we’re importing crime, we’re importing people from war-torn backgrounds who just don’t integrate properly.
“Now we have an opportunity, there is a minority group who are being persecuted who are absolutely compatible with the Australian way of life, they will contribute to Australia. We have approximately 200,000 white South Africans in Australia at the moment.
“They’re taxpayers, they work hard, they love drinking a beer on the weekend. We’re calling for the 2018/19 budget to allocate 80 per cent of the humanitarian intake, which is about 16,000, to these people.”
The South African government, which has been accused of covering up and even inciting the violence, responded angrily to Mr Dutton’s comments, saying there was no threat to white farmers in the country.
“That threat does not exist,” the South African Foreign Ministry said overnight. “There is no reason for any government in the world to suspect that a section of South Africans is under danger from their own democratically elected government.
“We regret that the Australian government chose not to use the available diplomatic channels available for them to raise concerns or to seek clarification.”
Civil rights group Afriforum, which represents the Afrikaner minority, expressed gratitude to Mr Dutton but said most South Africans would prefer to stay.
“We would like to solve the problem in South Africa,” Afriforum deputy chief executive Ernst Roets told the ABC. “So we don’t necessarily think the solution is for everyone to leave the country.”
Last month, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop’s department told Fairfax the government had noted that South Africa’s new president Cyril Ramaphosa was seeking to avoid mistakes others had made on the “delicate political and economic issue” of land redistribution.
“It hopes that land redistribution is handled in full accordance with provisions of the South African constitution and relevant laws to achieve his goal of improved food security, rural development and reduction of poverty,” the spokesperson said.
By: Frank Chung