Education and work
Yusuf was raised in Sydney. His father was from Pakistan and his mother was born in India. He lived in Pakistan and the U.S. for a time, and then returned to Australia and attended St Andrew's Cathedral School in Sydney.
He graduated from Macquarie University in law and economics. He also has a Diploma of Legal Practice from the University of Technology, Sydney. He was admitted to the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1994.
Yusuf was involved in campus politics prior to joining the Liberal Party in 1993 where he became prominent in its conservative faction. In 2005 Yusuf explained "from 1994 to 2002, I was a factional warrior for the non-Group (right-wing) faction of the NSW Liberals." He was elected to the State Council of the NSW division of the Party from 1996–2000. He writes he was ordered by factional bosses such as Tony Abbott to oppose the preselection of Brendan Nelson because he was not considered sufficiently conservative. In 1999, he ran with other members of the Liberal Party for the Bankstown council as part of a group called "New Generation", he was unsuccessful. He was also endorsed as Liberal candidate for the safe Labor seat of Reid in the 2001 Australian Federal Election. He achieved a two-party preferred swing of over 5%.
Leaving the Liberal Party
He let his Liberal Party membership lapse in 2002 and in particular became critical of what he said was a takeover of the conservative faction by NSW Member of the Legislative Council David Clarke. In July 2006, in an episode of ABC's Four Corners, he joined other former Liberals in criticising the direction of the Party. He accused Clarke of being willing to exploit anti-semitism and homophobia to recruit Muslims from Sydney to his party and faction, and that he had made derogatory remarks to him about Jews and homosexuals. Clarke vehemently denied Yusuf's claims, threatening legal action which never eventuated.
After a scandal involving a racist leaflet emerged during the 2007 election, Yusuf remarked on ABC's Lateline that a member expelled from the Liberal Party was perhaps affected by being "surrounded by bigots." He also claimed that one of John Howard's campaign workers had said to him he resembled "that Aborigine who my great grandfather shot dead for trespassing onto his property."
In an online article in September 2005, Yusuf criticised his former factional colleague Bronwyn Bishop, a prominent Liberal member of the Australian House of Representatives. Bishop had led a campaign to ban the muslim headscarf in state schools on grounds that it was inconsistent with school uniforms and it was therefore an "iconic emblem of defiance". Yusuf said the campaign was more about discouraging rebelliousness and minimising cultural diversity, and facetiously suggested that dresses were far more of a national security issue: "How do we know that these women aren't hiding bombs under their dress?". He has previously criticised what he says are Bishop's efforts to "marginalise a key faith-sector of mainstream Australia" as being "most helpful to Osama bin Ladin". Bishop denied Yusuf's claim, saying it was "stupid" and offensive." In a speech to the Australian Parliament, Bishop further responded to Yusuf's criticism, declaring that Yusuf was "known for his offensive behaviour towards women".
In 2007, Yusuf received the Iremonger award by publishers Allen and Unwin, for his submission "Once were Radicals" that was published during 2009 as an autobiographical work Once Were Radicals: My years as a teenage Islamo-fascist. In 2008, he was "highly commended" by the Jesuit publication Eureka Street, for an essay on combating violence against women in Muslim-majority states.
He was a guest speaker at the Sydney Writers Festival in 2009, and a description of the event said Irfan "points the finger at mainstream extremism and hypocrisy and is a passionate (and funny) voice of moderation."
- "Irfan Yusuf". ABC. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
- Irfan Yusuf (2009),Once were radicals – My years as a teenage Islamo-fascist, Allen and Unwin, May 2009
- Irfan Yusuf, newmatilda.com, 2 November 2007, Brendan Nelson: Bejewelled Interloper or Future PM?
- Ali, Mahir (2 May 2009). "Lessons of a wannabe teen hero". The Australian. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
- Jill Rowbotham, Religious affairs writer Portrait of a radical as a young man 13 December 2007 The Australian
- Yusuf, Irfan (20 November 2008). Irfan Yusuf on Imams as Expert Witnesses (Speech). Conference '08. Melbourne, Victoria: University of Melbourne.
- Australian Homeland Security Research Centre, About Us
- "Ah, the tears of crocodiles". The Sydney Morning Herald. 3 September 2005.
- Yusuf, Irfan (24 September 2006). "Multiculturalism – the great debate begins". Daily Telegraph online. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
- The National Interest: 28 August 2005 – The Aussie Mossie
- Carr, Adam. "COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA LEGISLATIVE ELECTION OF 10 NOVEMBER 2001". Psephos. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
- ABC, 17 July 2006, The Right Stuff
- ABC Lateline, 5/9/05, Clarke denies denigrating Jews, homosexuals
- ABC Lateline, 22 November 2007, Liberal candidate goes to ground after bogus flyer controversy
- Onlinopinion.com, Irfan Yusuf, accessed 28 April 2009
- Yusuf, Irfan (26 September 2008). "Irfan Yusuf: Islam isn't a synonym for terrorism". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- Sydney Morning Herald, 6 September 2005 Bishop accused of keeping bomb in skirt
- Irfan Yusuf, Online Opinion, 6 September 2005, Mrs Bishop and the cloth
- Yusuf, Irfan (12 September 2008). "Irfan Yusuf: Violence against women won't stop until men speak out". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- Allen & Unwin – The Iremonger Award
- Eureka Street Extra, 19 July 2008, Eureka Street Writers Awards winners announced
- "Newmatilda.com at the Festival". New Matilda. 21 May 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009.