A terrorism expert has hit back at One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts’ accusation that Waleed Aly “condones Islamic terrorism”, calling the senator a “lunatic” and “conspiracy theorist”.
Senator Roberts appeared on Network Ten’s The Project on Wednesday night after a controversial Essential poll found half of Australians would support a Pauline Hanson-backed ban on Muslim immigration.
The already-heated interview quickly wrapped up when the senator told panellists it “would be nice” if absent co-host Aly “would condemn Islamic terrorism, not condone it”.
Dr Greg Barton, Chair in Global Islamic Politics at Deakin University, told The New Daily that Senator Roberts was “literally in the fringe lunatic category”, and argued Aly’s stance on terrorism was “very clear”.
Anne Aly, a Muslim Labor MP and counter-terrorism expert who is not related to Waleed Aly, said she found Senator Roberts’ comments “tiring”.
‘It shows a lack of real interest’
Dr Aly, who was the first Muslim woman to be elected to Federal Parliament, said Senator Roberts’ comments belied a lack of genuine interest in the issue of Muslim integration in Australia.
“It’s so tiring to hear people constantly accusing others of condoning terrorism when they’re just calling for reasonable responses,” she said.
“It’s the go-to for people who don’t want to engage at an intellectual level – even on issues they claim to care about.”
Deakin University’s Dr Barton said Waleed Aly’s stance on Islamic terrorism was “on the public record”.
He noted that Aly was currently working on a PhD that interrogated the root causes of terrorism.
Dr Barton accused Senator Roberts of being “so deep into conspiracy theory that you can’t confront him with the facts”.
“He has said that NASA has conspired with the CSIRO to hoodwink us all on climate change … it’s a concern that his rhetoric could have an affect on the public,” he said.
Last week, Senator Roberts told parliament the CSIRO had never released data that proved humans are causing global climate change.
Appearing on Q&A earlier in the year, the senator was confronted with graphs showing increasing temperatures over the past few decades, but claimed the data “had been corrupted” by NASA and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
‘It’s not only Waleed’
Dr Anne Aly argued that while Waleed Aly was a positive example of Muslim integration – the biggest issue for Essential poll respondents – she emphasised that he was far from the only one.
“There are Muslims demonstrating that they have integrated everywhere,” she said.
“Sure, they’re not all in the media, but they’re doctors, they’re academics, and they’re contributing every day.”
Dr Aly conceded there were Muslim immigrants who failed to integrate into Australia, but pointed out that was true for all nationalities.
“There are immigrants that never learn English and live in their isolated communities,” she said. “But often that’s because they don’t have access to services that help them integrate.”
Dr Aly questioned the methodology of the Essential poll, arguing that random sampling can be problematic.
She also argued that her experience as a Muslim in Australia was a positive one, and she did not find that half the people she met wanted to “send her back to where she came from”.