Waleed Aly hopes his Gold Logie win will break down racial and religious barriers.
Controversial yet brilliant host of The Project Waleed Aly hopes his Gold Logie win will help to break down racial and religious barriers, both in the television industry and in the wider community.
The 37-year-old journalist, reporter and now TV presenter won the Gold Logie for Best Personality on Australian TV, as well as Best Presenter for his work on The Project. Upon accepting his award, he made a stirring speech with a specific focus on racism within the TV industry.
He also spoke generously of the diversity represented that night by the Gold Logie nominees, but called for more diversity in the industry. He went on to talk about how certain people had hoped for him to win, referring to one personality in the room that night as ‘Mustafa’ – who had to change his name in order to get a job in the television industry.
"There have been a lot of people in the past week or two who have made it clear to me that me being here right now really matters to them," he said. "That reason was brought home ... not so long ago actually when someone who is in this room, and I'm not going to use the name they use in the industry, came up to me, introduced themselves and said to me, `I really hope you win. My name is Mustafa. But I can't use that name because I won't get a job'. He's here tonight. And it matters to people like that that I am here. I know it's not because of me. I know that."
The unknown personality has since been revealed as Here Come the Habibs star Tyler De Nawi, whose agent confirmed yesterday that his client is indeed the ‘mystery Mustafa’.
Mr Aly also went on to praise his fellow nominees as well as his wife for her tireless, often unpraised, work in the community.
"They don't give statuettes to people like that sadly but one day if life is fair they might just give her a statue," he said.
Mr Aly’s Gold Logie win has attracted some strange press over the last couple of days, with Australian Liberty Alliance (ALA) party NSW Senate candidate Kirralie Smith saying his win was “ridiculous”. Ms Smith has challenged Mr Aly to a serious debate about radical Islamic people who have emigrated to Australia.
“I issued an invitation to Waleed last year to have a debate about these issues and he has ignored it,” Ms Smith said. “Hundreds of thousands of people have acknowledged that on social media and that invitation still stands. It is an open one, it is all over the internet,” she said.
Mr Aly’s management said he was not available for comment due to work commitments.
Read more at www.sbs.com.au
Waleed Aly winning the Gold Logie speaks volumes for how Australians see the potential for successful integration of the Muslim community. And whilst his win may have attracted the ire of some, let’s not forget that the award is publicly voted so, in essence, it is a reflection of the kind of community to which the public aspires.
Mr Aly is an intelligent, often controversial figure in the Australian media industry. He’s not afraid to ask the difficult questions. He is a powerful voice for the Australian Muslim community. He is a lawyer, an academic on subjects such as international terrorism and politics, as well as an engineer and radio host. He worked his way up from community television, where he promoted Muslim culture in Australia, to his position as host of The Project, where he defends the rights of all Australians.
His wife Susan Carland is a former Muslim Australian of the Year who champions the rights of Muslim women in Australia. She is also a brilliant academic, mother of two and, according to Waleed, much funnier and smarter than he is.
“If she had my job she’d be much better at it than me,” he said. “She’s sharper, wittier, funnier and infinitely more charming and likeable and I’m really glad she doesn’t have my job because otherwise I definitely wouldn’t have it.”
In other words, this power couple are a shining example of everything most Australians don’t think Muslims can be. It’s safe to say that Waleed Aly throws a harsh light on the face of the Muslim stereotype. And it seems the Australian public are grateful for it.
“If tonight means anything, it’s that the Australian public, our audience, as far as they’re concerned, there is absolutely no reason why (the status quo) can’t change,” said Mr Aly as he finished his acceptance speech.
And yet there are always going to be some who feel the need to drag down positive influences such as Mr Aly. Kirralie Smith’s shameless grab for attention is one such example. I mean, who had even heard of the ALA prior to her unwarranted outburst? Her comments are, in my opinion, just one of the reasons why Australians have such misgivings about the Muslim community. Sure, she may have some points, but if she’s serious about integration and acceptance of Muslims, as she claims she is, then why the need to drive yet another wedge in the debate? Why can’t we have a positive stereotype for a change?
If Waleed Aly being voted Australia’s best TV personality is any indication, the public are willing to believe that there is more to the Muslim community than what is continually preached in mainstream media. We can only hope that this is the beginning of wider acceptance of Muslims across the country.
What do you think of Waleed Aly? Do you think he is deserving of his Gold Logie win? Does he influence your opinion of the Muslim community?
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