Press Council clears Piers Akerman calling Yassmin Abdel-Magied an ‘idiot’ as necessary ‘vigorous public debate’

A column by Piers Akerman which described Yassmin Abdel-Magied as a “silly Muslim woman”, “a fool” and “halfwit” has been cleared by the press watchdog, as being opinion and in the interests of public debate.

The article in question, ‘What genius gave this Islam idiot a soapbox’, appeared in The Sunday Telegraph on April 30 2017. In it, Akerman questioned the concept of multiculturalism and attacked those who had “fallen over themselves” to promote it.

The press watchdog has cleared the article

Akerman made reference to a number of public comments by Abdel-Magied, her part time job at the ABC, and position on the Council for Australian-Arab Relations.

The Sunday Telegraph argued the piece was clearly identified as an opinion, and at the time, Abdel-Magied was at the centre of widespread public debate.

It argued her religion was relevant to the article’s content, her public profile and position on the Council for Australian-Arab Relations. According to the Sunday Telegraph, the opinion was in the public interest as it exercised freedom of speech.

The Council agreed, recognising it was an expression of opinion and the article attacked both her and the concept of multiculturalism.

It said the opinion was based on explicit and implicit opinions about multiculturalism and that it was in the public interest that “vigorous public debate” be permitted, even when it is expressed “extreme terms” like the column in question.


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