Australian Muslim TV host Waleed Aly presents striking response to Christchurch terrorist attacks
'There's nothing about what happened in Christchurch today that shocked me... if we're honest, we all know this has been coming.'
The immediate aftermath of the mass shooting at the two mosques in Christchurch has sent people all over the world reeling — not simply because this terrorist attack was driven by white supremacy, but in particular because of some of the things said in the hours following.
One in particular was the inflammatory comments from Australian senator Faser Anning, who claimed the shooting was caused by Muslim immigration into Australia and New Zealand:
It drew anger from both Australians and New Zealanders, and even Singapore’s Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam had strong words against what he said:
But a particularly moving, poignant and impactful response was delivered by an Australian Muslim television host named Waleed Aly, who spoke on the news show The Project, which he co-hosts.
Here’s the video posted to Facebook, which garnered some 6 million views and more than 140,000 shares in less than 24 hours:
On Twitter, it got 32,000 retweets:
“You’ll have to forgive me, these won’t be my best words…”
— The Project (@theprojecttv) March 15, 2019
And here’s a transcript of what Waleed had to say, because it’s worth reading in full:
“You’ll have to forgive me, these won’t be my best words. The truth is, I don’t want to be talking today. When I was asked if it’s something I wanted to do, I resisted it, all day, until finally I had this overwhelming sense that it was somehow my responsibility to do so, and maybe that’s misguided.
But of all the things that I could say tonight, I’m gutted, and I’m scared, and I feel I’ve overcome with utter hopelessness. The most dishonest thing would be to say that I’m shocked. I’m simply not.
There’s nothing about what happened in Christchurch today that shocked me.
I wasn’t shocked when six people were shot to death at a mosque in Quebec City two years ago.
I wasn’t shocked when a man drove a van into Finsbury Park mosque in London about six months later.
And I wasn’t shocked when 11 Jews were shot dead in a Pittsburgh synagogue late last year, or when nine Christians were killed at a church in Charleston.
If we’re honest, we all know this has been coming.
I went to the mosque today. I do that every Friday, just like the people in those mosques in Christchurch today.
I know exactly what those moments before the shooting began would’ve been like.
I know how quiet, how still, how introspective those people would have been before they were suddenly gunned down.
How separated from the world they were feeling until the world came in and tore their lives apart.
And I know that the people who did this knew well enough how profoundly defenceless their victims were in that moment. This is a congregational prayer that happens every week like clockwork.
This was slaughter by appointment.
And it’s scary because like millions of other Muslims, I’m going to keep attending those appointments. And it feels like a fish in a barrel.
But that isn’t the scariest thing.
The thing that scared me most was when I started reading the manifesto that one of the apparent perpetrators of this attack published. Not because it was deranged, but because it was so familiar.
Let me share some quotes with you to show you what I mean.
“The truth is that Islam is not like any other faith. It is the religious equivalent of fascism.”
Or, “The real cause of bloodshed… is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate in the first place.”
Or, “As we read in Matthew 26:52, ‘all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword’ and those who follow a violent religion that calls on them to murder us, cannot be too surprised when someone takes them at their word and responds in kind.”
How do those words sound now? Now how do they sound when I tell you that they weren’t part of the manifesto? They were actually published today — after this terrorist attack — on an Australian parliamentary letterhead.
And I know they came from someone whom I don’t particularly want to name at the moment, whom all parties have denounced. I also know that the leader of one of those parties that denounced him once described Islam as a “disease Australia needs to vaccinate”. And even that party is kind on the fringes despite some valiant attempts by our media to change that.
I also know a senior figure in our government once suggested we made a mistake as a country by letting in Lebanese Muslims in the seventies.
And I know there are media reports going back eight years of a shadow cabinet meeting in which another senior politician suggested his party should use community concerns about Muslims in Australia failing to integrate as a political strategy. That person is now the most senior politician we have.
So while I appreciate the words our leaders have said today, and in particular Scott Morrison’s comments and his preparedness to call this terrorism and the strength of his comments more generally, I have something to ask:
Don’t change your tune now because terrorism seems to be coming from a white supremacist. If you’ve been talking about being tough on terrorism for years in the communities that allegedly support it, show us how tough you are now.
For mine, I’m going to say the same thing I said about four years ago after (a) horrific Islamist attack:
Now, now we come together.
Now we understand this is not a game.
Terrorism doesn’t choose its victims selectively, but we are one community.
And everything we say to try to tear people apart, demonise particular groups, set them against each other, that all has consequences.
And even if we’re not the ones with our fingers on the trigger.”
The Project subsequently amended the description on its Facebook video to note that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office had contacted them to deny the 2011 report on comments he allegedly made at the shadow meeting.
But Waleed’s message is no less impactful.
Top photo: screenshot via The Project Facebook video