One Australian Muslim’s surprising response to calls for a Muslim ban is something the whole world needs to watch!

“Franklin Roosevelt’s famous advice, amid the Great Depression, must be turned on its head, according to Donald Trump: Far from having nothing to fear but fear itself, we have everything to fear. Crime, terrorism, illegal immigrants with criminal records “roaming free,” made-in-the-U.S.A. catastrophes around the world—all this, and much more, has brought America to the brink of apocalypse.”

Fear is a transformative political force in many countries right now, and, like Americans, people all over the world are struggling with how to respond to it. A radical suggestion came this week from the opposite side of the globe, in Australia, in the course of a debate over a Trump-like call to ban Muslim immigrants.

In response, one Muslim called for extreme compassion. It seemed like a genuinely new proposal for breaking out of an old and agonizing cycle. But is it a real solution to fear itself?

The controversy in Australia began on Sunday when, in response to the terrorist attack in Nice, the journalist Andrew Bolt published a column with an incendiary claim: The more Muslim immigrants a country has, the more likely it is to experience terrorism.

He wrote that France was plagued by terrorist attacks because it had let too many Muslims into the country, that nations like Japan don’t suffer jihadist violence because they have small Muslim populations, and that Australia should restrict Muslim immigration.

In an attempt to preempt criticism of his position, he singled out the TV presenter Waleed Aly as an example of a “prominent” Australian Muslim who turns “almost every discussion on Islamic terrorism into a criticism of the West.”

Then Sonia Kruger, the co-host of a morning talk show, backed Bolt, urging a ban on Muslim migration to Australia—the “Donald Trump approach,” a fellow host observed. “I want to feel safe, as all of our citizens do,” Kruger said. Her comments produced a firestorm online.

And then something surprising happened: Waleed Aly came to Kruger’s defense, sort of. Aly is a bit like John Oliver in the United States—a charismatic, politically liberal host whose indignant, impassioned segments often go viral on social media and get giddily regurgitated by news websites (whereas American headline-writers tend to marvel at Oliver “eviscerating” this or that subject, their Australian counterparts typically assure us that Aly has “nailed it”).

In a widely shared segment this week, Aly argues that we live in scary times, and “how we deal with our fear is becoming the defining measure that determines us as a people.”

“I could do that with the best of intentions but really all I’d be doing is encouraging the inertia of outrage that spins the Gravitron that we’re all on,” he said on Tuesday’s edition of The Project.

“I’d be fuelling the same cycle that has led to absolutely horrendous personal attack on Sonia in the last 24 hours.

“Sonia Kruger is not evil, she’s scared and she’s trying to make sense of the world.”

Aly went on to agree with Kruger’s fears, adding that he was “scared too.”

“I’m afraid for this country. I see such hostility and aggression and I’m afraid about what it could do to this country,” he said.

“I’m terrified about what it is doing to my friends and my family.

“Honestly, I’m scared about where I belong.”

In the editorial, co-written by supervising producer Tom Whitty, Aly suggested taking a “radically generous” approach instead of acting destructively to these fears.

“We are all afraid, but it’s how you deal with that fear,” he said.

“You don’t have to be calling for the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of innocent people to be acting destructively, you might just be angrily tweeting at someone who said something outrageous… I’m not saying you should be silent in the face of bigotry, but when you do engage with someone you disagree with I’m talking about assuming the best in people, showing others radical generosity in the face of their hostility.

“I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve seen outrage go viral, wouldn’t it be amazing if just once we could send forgiveness viral?”

The incredible video has already been viewed over 10 million times. Click to watch it below:

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Brent Lindeque
About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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