NSW tribunal finds Sonia Kruger vilified Muslims on Today Show segment

A tribunal has found Sonia Kruger’s comments during a Today Show segment about Muslim migration were “vilifying remarks in their own right,” and “amounted to a stereotypical attack on all Muslims in Australia”.

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s decision also found the remarks were likely to “encourage hatred towards, or serious contempt for, Australian Muslims.”

Despite the findings, the specific 2017 racial vilification complaint filed by Sam Ekermawi, who previously launched a similar case against Alan Jones, was dismissed.

The tribunal found Kruger’s remarks could not be considered racial vilification, because “‘Muslims living in Australia’ do not fall within the definition of persons of an ethno-religious origin, and thus are not a race.”

Kruger’s comments were made during a 2016 Today Show segment following the Nice terrorist attacks, in which the veteran TV presenter said: “Personally I would like to see it [Muslim migration] stopped now for Australia. Because I want to feel safe, as all of our citizens do, when they go out to celebrate Australia Day.”

The following day, Kruger addressed the situation on air, saying: “I want to make it very clear that I have complete respect for people of all races and religions. I acknowledge my views yesterday may have been extreme.”

In Friday’s decision, the tribunal referred to Kruger’s remarks that all Muslim migration should be stopped now “because I want to feel safe, as all of our citizens do, when they go out to celebrate Australia Day” and “for the safely of the citizens here”.

“In our view”, it said, “such remarks would likely encourage hatred towards, or serious contempt for, Australian Muslims by ordinary members of the Australian population.”

The NSW tribunal considered if Kruger’s comments were simply reporting the Andrew Bolt article of which they were discussing, but agreed that the commentary “goes beyond simply a fair report of Andrew Bolt’s article.”

“She provided her own views and commentary on the issues and these additions were not just opinion, they were vilifying remarks in their own right,” it said.

The tribunal agreed that “Ms Kruger’s tone was calm and measured. She did use the term ‘fanatics’ and made it clear she did not think every Muslim in Australia or overseas was a fanatic. She did say some of her best friends were peace-loving Muslims.”

In 2018, Nine attempted to have the complaint be dismissed without a hearing because “Muslims living in Australia do not come within the definition of a ‘race’ in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)”, but it was refused.

Nine would not comment on the findings.

The Today Show transcript:

Sonia Kruger: “Or is it actually really simple? I mean, personally, I think Andrew Bolt has a point here, that there is a correlation between the number of people who, you know, are Muslim in a country and the number of terrorist attacks. Now I have a lot of very good friends who are Muslim, who are peace-loving who are beautiful people, but there are fanatics. And does the population and the correlation between those two things, is it having an impact? I mean, if you look at Japan, Japan has a population of 174 million. It has a hundred thousand people in that country who are Muslim. We never hear of terrorist attacks in Japan. Personally I would like to see it stopped now for Australia. Because I want to feel safe, as all of our citizens do, when they go out to celebrate Australia Day. And I’d like to see freedom of speech and Lisa I think, you know we’re seeing journalists threatened… .”

Lisa Wilkinson: … But just to clarify Sonia, are you saying that you would like our borders closed to Muslims at this point?

SK: Yes I would. I would. Because I think at this point…

LW: Which is the Donald Trump approach…

SK: I think we have something like 500,000 now in our country and I… Well perhaps it is… but for the safely of the citizens here, I think it’s important.”


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