MEDIA
10/10/2014 04:27 pm ET Updated Oct 10, 2014

Anchor's Tense Exchange Over ISIS Makes Waves In Australia

She wanted a direct answer -- and she didn't think he was giving one.

Watch a recent showdown between Australian news anchor Emma Alberici and Wassim Doureihi, a spokesperson for the controversial Islamic political group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which could soon be banned Down Under.

Alberici asks Doureihi if he condemns the tactics of Islamic State fighters, who have "cut off the heads of innocent journalists and aid workers."

In response, Doureihi calls the question "disconcerting" and "offensive." Alberici keeps up the pressure, imploring him to "answer my question, please." As the spokesman attempts a broad criticism of foreign policy, Alberici snaps, "You are clearly obfuscating."

Groups like the Islamic State, Doureihi says, "exist as a reaction to Western interference in the Islamic lands and they view themselves, rightfully or wrongfully, irrespective of my opinion or otherwise, as a resistance effort to what they regard as an unjust occupation."

The sparring duo get nowhere -- and yet it's hard to look away.

The interview, from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Lateline,” earned praise for Alberici from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. "She's a feisty interviewer ... good on her for having a go and I think she spoke for our country last night," he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Abbott has said Australia will soon attempt to outlaw Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose mission according to their website is to "resume the Islamic way of life by establishing an Islamic state that executes the systems of Islam and carries its call to the world."

Members of the group do not openly advocate violence, according to the Associated Press, and the United States doesn't consider it a terrorist organization. But Hizb ut-Tahrir has been banned in several other countries over principles that call for overthrowing existing governments.

Abbott told 3AW radio that the group has "an ideology which justifies terrorism and that’s why I say it’s un-Australian."

Alberici said Abbott's endorsement was "terrific," but admitted she was left frustrated by the exchange.

"We have a long history at Lateline of conducting interviews without fear or favour. So it's terrific we have that kind of endorsement from the PM, but it's just as terrific that in our plural liberal democracy people can disagree," she told the Morning Herald. "But I don't think it's the best interview I've ever done, because I didn't get any answers!"

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