Freedom, Only Freedom…


Last night I had the most profound and bittersweet privilege: sharing a stage with Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian to interview them on the recent release of Behrouz’s new book – Freedom, Only Freedom.

It was a sold out event, almost 500 people packed into an auditorium at the wonderful Brisbane Powerhouse.

I grew up believing that journalism was subversive, that it was about uncovering the truth. As I’ve become older, and uglier, I wonder whether any journalism is being advanced in the mainstream and populist media, which seem to exist for the purpose of click bait hysteria, hyperbole and maintaining the status quo.

HOWEVER, what Behrouz, Omid and their colleagues present in this book epitomises, in my opinion, art and journalism. It is a triumph of humanity and resistance, a profound insight into deliberate systems of oppression and a demand for us to do much better. 

I noted to Behrouz, in closing the event, that as an Australian and fellow human being, I am deeply sorry that he had to write this book. 
But I am also deeply thankful that, given the circumstances Behrouz found himself in, he chose to write it. 

Thank you to Behrouz and Omid for their honesty, generosity, humanity and grace.

Thank you to the almost 500 people who could have done many other things on a Thursday night but chose to buy a ticket to that event knowing that it would be a very uncomfortable and challenging conversation.

There were moments you could have heard a pin drop. Laughter, tears, a few people yelling out from the audience (in solidarity and good humour), and rapturous applause. 

There was also a strong call to action and a commitment to change.

Thank you to the excellent hosts, the Brisbane Powerhouse and QUT. I am grateful for the opportunity.

Buy this book.

Buy one for your friends, buy another for your neighbour, buy another for your Federal member of parliament – read it, reflect on it, discuss it and demand change. 

This, is our collective responsibility. 

Aleem Ali, CEO Welcoming Australia


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