It’s been almost three years since Sonia Kruger sparked outrage with her controversial comments linking Muslim immigration and terrorist attacks.
Now a tribunal has found the Today Extra host vilified Muslim people when she called for Australia to close its boarders to those of Islamic faith during a segment on the Today show in 2016. However, it was not a racial vilification, because Muslim people are not a race in Australia, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal said, in its decision released on Friday.
Kruger angered many Aussies and offended thousands of Muslim Australians when she appeared on the Today show’s Mixed Grill segment to discuss migration issues in July 2016.
At the time, there was a fierce debate in the public domain about the rate of Muslim immigration to Australia and the growing terror threat around the world. Kruger drew the ire of the public and her co-panelists David Campbell and former Today show host Lisa Wilkinson when she said she believes there is a direct link to Muslim immigration and terrorist attacks.
“There is a correlation between the number of people who are Muslim in a country and the number of terrorist attacks,” Kruger said at the time.
“I have a lot of very good friends who are Muslim, who are peace-loving, who are beautiful, but there are fanatics. I would like to see it stopped now for Australia because I want to feel safe, as all our citizens do, when they go out to celebrate Australia Day and I’d like to see freedom of speech as well.”
Her comments were met with a flood of criticism and led Sam Ekermawi, an Australian Muslim man, to lodge a racial vilification compliant with the Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
In its decision released today, the tribunal said Kruger’s “vilifying remarks” would likely “encourage hatred towards, or serious contempt for, Australian Muslims by ordinary members of the Australian population”.
However, the racial vilification complaint filed by Ekermawi was dismissed because “the evidence does not support a finding that Muslims living in Australia are a ‘race’ by reason of a common ethnic or ethno-religious origin”.
The tribunal said it accepted that Kruger and her employer, Nine, were “acting in good faith without malice and not for an improper purpose” but said it “cannot accept that the remarks of Ms Kruger were ‘reasonable'”.
“She expressed the view that the size of Australia’s Muslim population meant there should be no further Muslim migration irrespective of any other matter. This appears to be unsupported by any evidence or material placed before the Tribunal,” the tribunal said.