The world was once again shook after yet another devastating terrorist attack, this time inside two mosques of Christchurch, New Zealand on Thursday evening. While news outlets try to keep with ever rising death toll, which on Friday rose to 49 people, with at least 20 injured, Australian news reporter Waleed Aly used his segment time to speak from the heart. In less than five minutes, the practicing Muslim concisely conveyed his thoughts about the issues of growing hate, racism and violence all around the world.
“Of all the things that I could say tonight —that I am gutted, that I am scared, and that I am filled with utter hopelessness—the most dishonest thing, the most dishonest thing would be to say that I am shocked,” Aly said. “I’m simply not. There’s nothing about what happened in Christchurch today that shocks me.”
“Everything we say to try to tear people apart, demonize particular groups, set them against each other, that all has consequences, even if we are not the ones with our fingers on the trigger.”
So, who is Waleed Aly? While he’s on TV every day, he does not have Facebook, Instagram or a Twitter account, but here’s what you need to know about the 40-year-old award winning journalist on The Project ?
1. Waleed is Aware People Are Obsessed with Him Being a Sunni Muslim
While Waleed’s video supporting the Muslim community of New Zealand went viral after the terrorist attack, it’s far from the first time he’s fought to defend his own culture and religion. In an interview with The Australian Waleed said, “I’d like to ask you a question. Why do you think all the media want to ask me about being a Muslim? I find it intriguing.”
“No one raises it,” Waleed said of walking down the street or talking to the live audience on The Project, “But when I’m interviewed it always comes up. I don’t know what it reflects – I’m trying to figure it out sociologically… I’m aware that there are people out there, although they wouldn’t admit this, who are on the fringes of discourse who have a very weird and I think probably quite sinister obsession with me,” he said.
“I really just focus on trying to do my job properly. I never wake up and go into work thinking how can I be Muslim about this or how can I be non-aligned about this. I think a lot of people assume that but you’ve got to understand that where I’m standing I can’t see me; all I see is cameras and floor managers and crew…”
2. He and Wife Susan Carlson are Australia’s Muslim Power Couple
In 2018, Vogue included bother of them in the Game Changers series, and it’s easy to understand why. Dr. Susan Carland, who converted from Christianity to Islam at age 19 teaches at Melbourne’s Monash University, author of the book Fighting Hislam: women, faith and sexism.
In 2016, when Waleed was given the Logie Award for Best Personality and the silver for Best Presenter, in his acceptance speech he said, “If she had my job she’d be much better at it than me. She’s sharper, wittier, funnier and infinitely more charming and likeable.”
The got married in 2002 at the Melbourne Zoo and have two kids, Aisha and Zayd.
3. He is the Lead Guitarist of Australian Rock Band, Robot Child
When not covering the news or spending time with his family, Waleed is jamming with with his band, Robot Child. Formed in 2008, he plays guitar with Jeff Wortman on vocals, Daniel Slater on drums, Daniel Lynders on bass, David Hartney on keys/guitar, and Owen James on keys.
The hard rock band regularly played around Melbourne and Sydney, and produced their own debut album, One More War.
As to whether or not there will be another record, their website states, “The ambitious task that lies ahead is to write an amazing sophomore album. Six strong opinions and endless discussions about which chord/feel/guitar tone is necessary to meet their perfectionist attitude – but – the whiteboard is already bursting with riffs, six part harmony and political discourse. Stay tuned…”
4. Waleed has More Jobs and Awards than Most People Combined
As a kid, Waleed studied at the prestigious private school in Melbourne, Wesley College, and then studied law and engineering at Melbourne University. He was a board member of the Islamic Council of America for four years, and used to work as a commercial lawyer before working as a TV reporter, and while Waleed’s main Job is working on The Project, he has many others, including teaching politics at Monash University.
Due to his innumerable contributions writing about multiculturalism and human rights, he’s won a Walkley Award Commendation in 2005, was named on The Bulletin’s “Smart 100” in 2007, a VIC Local Hero in 2011, and three Logie Awards between 2016 and 2017 for his work on The 7 P.M Project series, for which he’s co-hosted since 2009.
5. Waleed’s Son Zayd was Diagnosed with Autism
Waleed’s son Zayd was diagnosed with autism, and the reporter spoke openly about it on his show, only after receiving his child’s permission. “I’d decided I wasn’t going to talk publicly about it partly because I thought it was his [Zayd’s] call.”
Diagnosed in 2011, Waleed told TV Week “because of the early diagnosis, he was able to get the support he needed. He’s a lovely little man, and it’s lovely watching him grow through all of these things.”
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