Race relations experts say media personality Sonia Kruger’s call to ban Muslim migration to Australia, made on prime time TV, could contribute to a rise in xenophobic attacks in Australia.
On Monday, Kruger told panellists on Channel Nine’s Today show she agreed with a recent column by News Corp’s Andrew Bolt linking the Nice attacks with France’s Muslim population.
“Personally I think Andrew Bolt has a point here,” Kruger said.
“I have a lot of very good friends who are Muslim, who are peace loving, who are beautiful people – but there are fanatics,” she said.
She added that terrorist attacks were almost unheard of in Japan and cited its relatively low Muslim population.
Experts, including Kruger’s former university professor, told The New Daily that Kruger’s comments were more likely to breed radicalism than prevent it.
Host Lisa Wilkinson asked Kruger to clarify that she was echoing Donald Trump’s calls for an all-out ban on Muslim immigrants.
“Yes … for the safety of our citizens here, I think it’s important,” Kruger said.
Dr Andrew Jakubowicz, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) professor and race relations expert, said he taught Kruger at university and lamented that “Logic 101” was not part of the course.
Watch Sonia Kruger’s Today comments below:
‘I have a lot of Muslim friends’
Following the inevitable social media backlash, Kruger stood by the comments on Twitter, while Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane called for the public to speak out against “stereotyping that breeds hate”.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shut down the comments.
Dr Jakubowicz said the presenter’s argument lacked logic.
“Yes, the more people you have in a country, the more chance of homicidal maniacs, but the vast majority aren’t homicidal maniacs,” he told The New Daily.
Two per cent, or 476,300 of Australians, identified as Muslim in the 2011 Census.
Dr Jakubowicz said despite the climate of fear, Australia needed to debate national security without abandoning democratic values.
“This isn’t about political correctness,” he said, arguing that Kruger’s comments were more likely to cause radicalisation than prevent it.
“If you’re an ISIS strategist you’d think, ‘What do I need to really piss off more Muslim people? I really need some rednecks to get stuck into them’.
“And then I need no one to stand up and say there’s something wrong with that.”
Dr Jakubowicz sardonically suggested Australia would save more lives by banning the immigration of young men – who are statistically more likely to kill their partners than Muslims are to commit terrorist acts.
Christina Ho, senior lecturer in social and political sciences at UTS, said comments such as Kruger’s made racism more socially acceptable.
“Racism is absolutely on the increase and there’s lot of evidence to show Muslim Australians are reporting increases in attacks and abuse,” she said.
Ms Ho said Australia’s current migration system – which focusses on skills rather than race – was actually studied by her academic colleagues in Japan as an example of a multicultural success story.
“For a country with such a level of multiculturalism, we’ve basically had no terrorism,” she said.
“France has an immigration policy of assimilation, whereas we have a policy of celebrating differences.”
‘Let’s meet up, Sonia’
Lawyer, columnist and Muslim advocate Mariam Veiszadeh told The New Daily she had reached out to Kruger following the comments.
“I’d like to invite Sonia out to have a coffee and discuss her concerns,” she said.
“Let’s have fact-based conversations free from hysteria.”
Veiszadeh, who came to Australia as an Afghani Muslim refugee, recently launched the website Fact Check One Nation.
Run by Australian Muslims, the site aims to “illuminate the substance and veracity” of One Nation and Pauline Hanson’s policy claims about Islam.
Whether you agree with @SoniaKruger or not on border control, appreciate she is only looking out for Australian safety and that took guts!
— Nic Ashman (@Nic_Ashman) July 17, 2016
Hi Sonia, Genuine Offer:
Let’s meet for a coffee and discuss your concerns about Muslim immigration.
— Mariam Veiszadeh (@MariamVeiszadeh) July 18, 2016
The sad irony of Sonia Kruger’s comments is that they’ll make her more popular, not less
— Steely Dad (@darren_levin) July 18, 2016
Some of my best friends are…………
Is not a “get out of being a #racist card”
Just makes you a pretty crappy friend#SoniaKruger
— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) July 18, 2016
While laying into the ignorance of Sonia Kruger, let’s also credit @DavidCampbell73 & Lisa Wilkinson who could have but didn’t let it slide.
— Bernard Zuel (@BernardZuel) July 18, 2016
Stop picking on Sonia Kruger just because she ate some of Eddie McGuire’s painkillers
— Fiona Katauskas (@FionaKatauskas) July 18, 2016