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Waleed Aly is refusing to back down over his controversial interview with Heritier Lumumba, despite criticism over his questioning of the former Collingwood player.
Lumumba claimed he was nicknamed “chimp” while playing for Collingwood, just one of a series of disturbing claims about the racist treatment he received while playing for the club.
An independent report released earlier this year vindicated many of Lumumba's claims after finding that a culture of "systemic racism" had been allowed to foster at the AFL club.
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The disturbing findings of the "Do Better" report thrust Lumumba's 2017 interview with The Project's Aly back into the spotlight.
During the interview on Network Ten, Aly appeared to cast doubt on Lumumba's claims by questioning why no other member of the Collingwood football club - including Leon Davis who also claimed to be the victim of racism at the club - could corroborate Lumumba's version of events and the "chimp" nickname in particular.
After the interview aired in 2017, fellow Project host and Collingwood fan Peter Holler appeared to question the authenticity of Lumumba’s allegations, saying: “It would be really helpful if we heard more detail, especially with the nickname”.
Helliar also said Lumumba was “smearing an entire club”, comments which the comedian apologised for in the wake of the "Do Better" report.
— Peter Helliar (@pjhelliar) February 1, 2021
However, Aly and Network Ten have offered no such apology and told the Daily Telegraph over the weekend that his line of questioning was justified.
Aly stands by controversial interview
“No, I don’t regret the interview at all,” Aly said.
“I was approached to do the interview by his team, we did it. I asked the questions I think had to be asked in the circumstances it was for him to answer. I think that it’s been part of the process that has led us to this point.
“I think he’s entirely justified to feel vindicated by (the findings).”
Thanks @Williams__Carly for this detailed piece on the disgraceful interview I was subjected to by the Project, in 2017; the damage was far reaching. Indigenous and African journalists have been a major key to me being able to pursue justice since.https://t.co/fpjsN9JUjX
— Héritier Lumumba (@iamlumumba) February 4, 2021
Aamer Rahman, a close friend and vocal supporter of Lumumba on social media, told News Corp earlier in the year that the interview with Lumumba on The Project would be a mark on the careers of Aly, Helliar and fellow host Carrie Bickmore.
“Unfortunately I think The Project’s refusal to acknowledge the role they played in discrediting Lumumba will be a permanent mark on the program and the careers of its hosts,” he said.
“I’m not sure how they can credibly cover stories about racism and discrimination after this.
“It demonstrates a refusal to acknowledge a mistake and instead a desire to just block criticism.
“Not so different to what the Collingwood Football Club is currently doing, actually.”
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