A tribunal has found while Sonia Kruger did indeed vilify Muslim people when she called for Australia to close its borders to people of the Islamic faith during a Today show segment, she did not engage in racial vilification because Muslim people are not a race.
This comes after Nine failed to get the racial vilification complaint against Sonia Kruger thrown out.
The decision, made on Friday by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal said Kruger’s “vilifying” remarks in July 2016 were a “stereotypical attack on all Muslims in Australia” and had the potential to “encourage hatred towards, or serious contempt for, Australian Muslims by ordinary members of the Australian population”.
Nine declined B&T‘s request for comment.
In the segment where Kruger made her remarks, she referred to a column by Andrew Bolt, following a terrorist attack in Nice, France.
Kruger linked Muslims’ migration to France to the recent terrorist attacks in the country.
She said on air: “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?”
She said she would “like to see [immigration of Muslim people] stopped now for Australia. Because I want to feel safe, as all of our citizens do”.
The following day, Kruger conceded her views “may have been extreme”.
Sam Ekermawi, a Muslim living in Australia, took the issue to the tribunal and said Kruger and the Nine Network had racially vilified Muslims.
He did not seek a payout but did request an apology.
“There is no objective evidence that would allow the tribunal to be comfortably satisfied that Muslims living in Australia regard themselves as being a distinct community irrespective of their different ethnic origins, religious traditions,” the tribunal said in its findings published on Friday.
“In conclusion, 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.
“Apart from that issue, we would have found that both of the respondents [Kruger and The Nine Network] engaged in racial vilification of the Australian Muslim community, being Muslims living in Australia”.
The tribunal did find, however, that when Kruger said she wanted to see borders closed to Muslims “for the safety of citizens here”, she offered her own views that went beyond the discussion of Bolt’s piece.
“These additions were not just opinion, they were vilifying remarks in their own right,” the tribunal conceded.
While Kruger’s comments were not found to be racial vilification, the tribunal “would likely encourage hatred towards, or serious contempt for, Australian Muslims by ordinary members of the Australian population”.
The response on social media concerning the findings has been divided, with some users suggesting the tribunal’s ruling is “not good enough” and others saying Sonia’s comments “hit the nail on the head”.