Australia Council pays for Yassmin Abdel-Magied to spend six months in Paris

Jan 24, 2020
Yassmin left Australia and moved to the UK in 2017. Source: Getty.

Controversial activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied has been awarded a $20,000 grant, as well as a six-month residency at a Paris artists’ studio, by The Australia Council.

The Sudanese-Australian, who previously referred to herself as ‘Australia’s most hated Muslim’, was awarded the grant earlier this month and revealed she will use the taxpayer cash to write a new non-fiction book, following the success of her children’s book ‘You Must Be Layla’.

Writing on Twitter about the news, Abdel-Magied said she never expected to secure the grant from the Australia Council, also known as The Australia Council for the Arts, which is the federal government’s official art funding body.

Her award was announced as part of the latest grants round earlier this month, which saw a total of $6.5 million handed out to 186 artists. Yassmin received the substantial sum of $20,000 as well as a six-month stunt at the Keesing Studio in the French capital.

“To be honest when applying, I wondered if the panel would take into account the blowback they would get for awarding me a grant and elect not to because of it,” she said on Twitter. “It actually blew me away that despite knowing it would annoy folk, I was still fortunate enough to be awarded the opportunity.

“I guess there is some hope, hay? Things aren’t so black and white / straightforward with my relationship with Australia, but I’m always actually grateful that I am a citizen of a country where opportunities like this are available.”

She added: “I’m gonna have to write a banger of a book now, aren’t I!”

Yassmin, who was born in Sudan but raised in Brisbane, has lived in London since the end of 2017 after she made the decision to leave Australia following a backlash against the former ABC star, which was triggered by a number of comments that the 28-year-old made on social media.

The qualified engineer first sparked a furore among the Australian public in April 2017 when she shared a message online which read, “Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)”, appearing to turn April 25 into political fodder for her views on Australia’s treatment of refugees.

The former ABC presenter caused waves in Australia with the message and sparked anger yet again just six months later when she shared a similar message on Remembrance Day.

Her words were interpreted by many as a dig at Australia’s veterans and disrespectful to the sacrifices our diggers made in Gallipoli. She later apologised before making the move to the UK, after her ABC show Australia Wide was cancelled.

Speaking last year, she said she chose London as her new base because she deemed nowhere else as “safe for a black Muslim woman”. The broadcaster said she had also considered New York City, but ultimately branded the Big Apple too “Anglo-centric”.

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