Last night, The Project host Waleed Aly set an outspoken former terror suspect straight. And in usual Aly style, the smack down is nothing short of brilliant.
In case you missed it, on Monday night, Melbourne man Zaky Mallah commented on ABC’s Q&A program that the Federal government’s behaviour “justified” Australian Muslims turning to extremism. (Read more about that here.)
On The Project last night, Mallah’s controversial comments continued– with the 31-year-old claiming the Australian government was encouraging people to join Islamic State.
Related content: The creepy blogs luring Australians into joining ISIS.
The fiery exchange began with Aly asking Mallah was if he was worried that “maybe somebody watching the Q&A show could see his comments as “a call to arms”.
Mallah — who was acquitted of two terrorism charges in 2005 after being arrested under anti-terror laws in 2003 — replied: “Look, there are some young radicalised Muslims in the community at the moment who have always hated the Abbott Government, from the get-go.
“Last night’s incident from the Minister who suggested that stripping Australians from their citizenship escalated things to a whole new level.”
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Aly then ripped into Mallah in an attempt to force the man to take responsibility.
“The inflammation in this came from you,” the host said. “It came from what you said.”
“And there might be people who interpret it, a lot of people did interpret it as a call to arms. Do you feel any sense of responsibility from people who would interpret you that way?”
Read related content: Why young Australians are becoming radicalised.
“I wonder if you’re aware that area doing a lot more damage here than you are help?”
Mallah conceded that “maybe the tone of voice was too harsh”, but otherwise defended his stance, insisting he loved the country and was merely concerned with strengthening the rule of law.
“I don’t hold myself responsible for the stupidity of the Abbott Government. And his Minister,” he fired back.
“I’m an Australian. I was born and bred here. I love my country. I’m a man, I believe that Australia is a country of the rule of law. And the Abbott Government is trashing that,” he said.
Mallah also made a distinct plea to Australians not to join Islamic terror groups during the interview.
“I’ve been on your program before and I’ve made it very clear that anyone who wants to go and travel to Syria or to Iraq to join ISIS, don’t go,” Mallah said.
“It’s an organisation that has hijacked Islam. It’s an organisation that has hijacked the jihad. I don’t support ISIS and I don’t support anyone leaving Australia and their families to head overseas and join this group.”
While social media is divided over the interview, many Twitter users applauded Aly.
I love Waleed Aly. Such a good interview right now on @theprojecttv. Really impressed that he tackles the tough topics.
— Carly Findlay (@carlyfindlay) June 23, 2015
Others questioned why Channel 10 show The Project had Mallah on the show at all:
Mr Mallah was found not guilty of preparing a suicide attack on a Commonwealth building more than a decade ago.
The ABC reports that Mr Mallah did, however, plead guilty to threatening to kill ASIO officials in a plea bargain.
What did you think of the interview?