Culture

Waleed Aly Grilled Zaky Mallah Over His ‘Q&A’ Comments On ‘The Project’ Last Night

"I wonder if you're aware of the fact that you're doing a lot more damage than you are help?"

Zaky Mallah’s outburst on Q&A on Monday night is still making waves, with the Prime Minister calling the ABC’s loyalty into question and nearly every Murdoch rag in the country taking the “ABC = ISIS” leap of tabloid lunacy together.

It’s a conversation in sore need of a grown-up to step in, and thankfully Channel Ten’s The Project has put its hand up to be the voice of reason, or at least the voice of something other than weapons-grade idiocy. The Project invited Mallah on the show last night — in a prerecorded interview, not a bad idea — to clarify what he meant by the statement which has caused so much drama. Mallah has appeared on The Project before to discuss radicalisation among young Muslim people, and yesterday outlined his views in a column for Guardian Australia.

But interviewers Waleed Aly and Carrie Bickmore weren’t about to let Mallah off the hook for essentially pouring petrol on a debate that’s already profoundly distorted. When Mallah refused to take responsibility for the consequences of that Q&A episode, Aly took him to task:

“Zaky, it seems to me you’ve completely misread what’s happened today. No-one is having a conversation about the government and the rule of law. That conversation was actually already under way. Your intervention completely blew it off the rails,” Aly said.

“Your intervention has made this about you, and about radicalisation in the Muslim community and about the fact that words such as yours drive people towards that radicalisation — a conversation that it seems you don’t even want to have now, having started it. I wonder if you are aware of the fact that it seems you are doing a lot more damage than you are help?”

While it’s a shame Channel Ten has proclaimed its undying allegiance to the Islamic State by letting Mallah on one of its programs, The Project‘s intervention did a lot to show how much of a storm in a teacup this whole thing is, and how badly it’s distracted from the far more serious issue of the government chipping away at the rule of law. Having someone who wears snapbacks well into their twenties set the national discourse — not even once.