Why Waleed Aly Prioritises Forgiveness


In yet another week of horrific terrorist attacks in Munich and Kabul, Waleed Aly has responded to the violence with a message of forgiveness rather than fear. Following Sonia Kruger voicing her support for the prohibition of Muslim immigration in Australia, Aly broadcasted his opinion of the highly sensitive issues of terrorism and migration which continue to divide Australians.

Aly is a well-regarded university professor at Monash University, leading the Global Terrorism Research Centre, and regularly makes valuable insights into current affairs as a host of the Australian news program “The Project”. This week, the creation of his hashtag #SendForgivenessViral intends to broaden people’s narrow perspective of religious extremism and acknowledge the division within Australian culture. Aly proposes that fear is propelling a fierce cycle of hatred and hostility that in fact accelerates impulsive reactions to terrorist attacks, in turn actually benefiting the terrorist’s desire to instill panic in society. Aly describes the “inertia of outrage” as more destructive that terrorist attacks themselves, again calling for unity in an epoch of uncertainty. Furthermore, increasing support for Pauline Hanson’s racist and xenophobic policies further validate the necessity of forgiveness not just in Australian society, but worldwide.

The collective responsibility we all have to world peace is a duty that must be strengthened, Aly suggests in the segment, as impulsive reactions to violence counteract social progress. As a Muslim, Aly’s proposal for forgiveness is even more compelling as he states that he is apprehensive of his own belonging in Australia. His genuine concern for the future of the nation is apparent, as radical far-right politics in France and the United States are already impacting the Australian political environment. Aly calls for a more mature approach to global terrorism, urging individuals to consciously choose construction over destruction. He proposes that the key to responding to terrorist attacks and people’s reactions to them is to understand why fear is the natural response and why we should not to attack them for it. The #SendForgivenessViral hashtag has been a highly positive initiative of Aly as it has already stimulated conversation on social media and caught the attention of international media.

By tapping into the fear most Australians have of terrorism, Aly has been able to once again propose a more constructive approach to international issues based on the common humanity that we all share. Aly suggests that by prioritising and acting through forgiveness, our collective response to international issues is on track to change the world.

Charlotte Owens