A tribunal has found Channel Nine presenter Sonia Kruger‘s words during a Today show segment in 2016 were “vilifying remarks” that “would likely encourage hatred towards, or serious contempt for, Australian Muslims.”
However, the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal dismissed the incident as a case of racial vilification as “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 complaint was filed by Muslim Australian Sam Ekermawi.
In 2016, during a segment with co-host David Campbell and Lisa Wilkinson, Kruger said she saw a “correlation between the number of Muslims in a country and the number of terrorist attacks”. The discussion came after the Nice terrorist attack on Bastille Day and had been in response to a column written by Andrew Bolt in which he argued against Muslim immigrants in Australia.
“Personally, I would like to see it (Muslim migration) stop now for Australia,” Kruger said at the time.
“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.”
She added: “I have a lot of friends who are Muslim who are peace-loving, who are beautiful people, but there are fanatics”.
The tribunal found Kruger’s words to go beyond a fair report of Bolt’s article because she “provided her own views and commentary of the issues and these additions were not just opinion, they were vilifying remarks in their own right.”
A day after the segment, Kruger returned to screens to make it clear that she has “complete respect for people of all races and religions.”
“I acknowledge my views yesterday may have been extreme. It is a hugely complex and sensitive issue, it’s an issue with no simple answer and it’s an issue that cannot be fully discussed in a short televised segment.”