Just when you thought we had reached peak Waleed, lifestyle magazine Men’s Style Australia has gone and put Australia’s favourite Islamic State-bashing journo on the front cover of its latest edition.
But don’t be fooled by the Ralph Lauren suit or the perfectly manicured ‘five o’clock shadow’ beard - fame hasn’t gone to his head, he insists.
“I still don’t regard myself as a celebrity and I find the whole notion laughable, really. I come from a world where the thing that’s mattered most is the content or the issue, not the personality, and I still approach it that way,” Aly told Men’s Style Australia.
“I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of being representative … of anything! I have no authority to claim I’m representative. I haven’t won an election or anything.”
“If there’s one perception of me I relate least to it’s the perception that I’m advocating for something in particular. And I’m just not. There are certain issues where I have a position and I will, when the moment calls for it, argue that position, but I don’t expect people to just flatly believe in it. It’s more an offer. This is my analysis, do with it what you will,” he said.
Aly also touched on the problem with social media and integrity.
"One of my philosophical objections to social media is that it transforms our entire existences into one-off performances. I think that’s a really unhealthy development," he lamented.
Born to Egyptian parents and raised in Melbourne, Aly, 37, arguably became one of Australia’s most prominent Sunni Muslims after he was given a permanent spot on Channel Ten’s news and current affairs program The Project in December 2014.
Originally a practising lawyer and academic, Aly was drawn to media by vocation, writing opinion pieces for Fairfax Media, The Guardian and The Australian. Aly also hosted the ABC’s Big Ideas program, and had stints hosting News Breakfast and Radio National’s Breakfast show, before resigning from all his posts for the prime time role.
While Aly may feel uncomfortable with the profile that has come with the gig, since then his star has only risen, and Men’s Style Australia agrees, having splashed the cover with “The Most Important Man on TV”.
"I've wanted to feature him for quite some time, he's this big brained man who thinks before he speaks. There is a reason everything he says goes viral online," editor Michael Pickering told The Sydney Morning Herald.
It was Aly’s “editorials” on The Project that turned him into human headline, his monologues spurring waves of comments and tweets. His most talked-about editorial was a scathing, analytical takedown of IS.
And one of the best things about the article that probably went overlooked? We were reminded about that time Aly made everyone within earshot of him feel significantly less cool ...