Irfan Yusuf

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Irfan Yusuf (Urdu: عرفان یوسف‎) (born 1969 in Karachi, Pakistan) is an Australian[1] social commentator[1] and author of the memoir Once Were Radicals: My years as a teenage Islamo-fascist.[2]

Education and work[edit]

Yusuf was raised in Sydney.[3] His father was from Pakistan and his mother was born in India.[4] 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.[5]

He graduated from Macquarie University in law and economics.[6] He also has a Diploma of Legal Practice from the University of Technology, Sydney.[7] He was admitted to the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1994.

Political activities[edit]

Yusuf was involved in campus politics prior to joining the Liberal Party in 1993 where he became prominent[8] in its conservative faction.[9] In 2005 Yusuf explained "from 1994 to 2002, I was a factional warrior for the non-Group (right-wing) faction of the NSW Liberals."[10] He was elected to the State Council of the NSW division of the Party from 1996–2000.[11] 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.[3] 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.[12] He was also endorsed as Liberal candidate for the safe Labor seat of Reid in the 2001 Australian Federal Election.[13] He achieved a two-party preferred swing of over 5%.[14]

Leaving the Liberal Party[edit]

He let his Liberal Party membership lapse in 2002[15] 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,[16] 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.[17] Clarke vehemently denied Yusuf's claims, threatening legal action which never eventuated.[17]

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."[18] 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."[3]

Commentator and author[edit]

Yusuf's work has been published in 6 major newspapers[19] and he has appeared on a number of television and radio programmes.[20][21]

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.[22] 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".[23] 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?".[24] 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".[24] Bishop denied Yusuf's claim, saying it was "stupid" and offensive."[25] 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".[22]

Since then, Yusuf has publicly campaigned against violence against women, particularly in the Muslim community.[26]

In 2007, Yusuf received the Iremonger award by publishers Allen and Unwin, for his submission "Once were Radicals"[27] that was published during 2009 as an autobiographical work Once Were Radicals: My years as a teenage Islamo-fascist.[2] In 2008, he was "highly commended" by the Jesuit publication Eureka Street, for an essay on combating violence against women in Muslim-majority states.[28]

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."[29]


  1. ^ a b "Irfan Yusuf". ABC. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Irfan Yusuf (2009),Once were radicals – My years as a teenage Islamo-fascist, Allen and Unwin, May 2009
  3. ^ a b c Irfan Yusuf,, 2 November 2007, Brendan Nelson: Bejewelled Interloper or Future PM?
  4. ^ Ali, Mahir (2 May 2009). "Lessons of a wannabe teen hero". The Australian. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  5. ^ Jill Rowbotham, Religious affairs writer Portrait of a radical as a young man 13 December 2007 The Australian
  6. ^ Yusuf, Irfan (20 November 2008). Irfan Yusuf on Imams as Expert Witnesses (Speech). Conference '08. Melbourne, Victoria: University of Melbourne. 
  7. ^ Australian Homeland Security Research Centre, About Us
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "Ah, the tears of crocodiles". The Sydney Morning Herald. 3 September 2005. 
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^
  12. ^ Yusuf, Irfan (24 September 2006). "Multiculturalism – the great debate begins". Daily Telegraph online. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  13. ^ The National Interest: 28 August 2005 – The Aussie Mossie
  14. ^ Carr, Adam. "COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA LEGISLATIVE ELECTION OF 10 NOVEMBER 2001". Psephos. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  15. ^ [3]
  16. ^ ABC, 17 July 2006, The Right Stuff
  17. ^ a b ABC Lateline, 5/9/05, Clarke denies denigrating Jews, homosexuals
  18. ^ ABC Lateline, 22 November 2007, Liberal candidate goes to ground after bogus flyer controversy
  19. ^ [4]
  20. ^, Irfan Yusuf, accessed 28 April 2009
  21. ^ Yusuf, Irfan (26 September 2008). "Irfan Yusuf: Islam isn't a synonym for terrorism". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  22. ^ a b Sydney Morning Herald, 6 September 2005 Bishop accused of keeping bomb in skirt
  23. ^ [5]
  24. ^ a b Irfan Yusuf, Online Opinion, 6 September 2005, Mrs Bishop and the cloth
  25. ^ [6]
  26. ^ 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. 
  27. ^ Allen & Unwin – The Iremonger Award
  28. ^ Eureka Street Extra, 19 July 2008, Eureka Street Writers Awards winners announced
  29. ^ " at the Festival". New Matilda. 21 May 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 

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