Television host Sonia Kruger’s vilification of Muslims, and men telling women wearing hijabs on trains they are “terrorists” should be against the law, Islamic groups say.
Australian Islamic leaders have urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to tackle Islamophobia as he prepares to unveil new religious discrimination laws.
Australian National Imams Council spokesman Bilal Rauf, who attended talks with Mr Morrison on August 5, said the comments by the former Dancing with The Stars host on Channel Nine’s Today show was a perfect example of the problem.
“There was the case of Sonia Kruger, who said we should ban all Muslims and not let them come into our country,” he told The New Daily.
“Now the [NSW Civil and Administrative} Tribunal found clearly that was a comment that would incite contempt and hatred.
“Yet, the tribunal said there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s actually not unlawful.
“In the same way that someone shouldn’t be able to paint a swastika, Islamophobia should not be acceptable.”
But the tribunal found she had not engaged in racial vilification because Muslim people living in Australia are not a race.
On July 18, 2016, Kruger said Japan didn’t have many Muslims and you never hear about terror attacks there.
“Personally I think Andrew Bolt has a point here that there is a correlation between the number of Muslims in a country and the number of terrorist attacks,” she said.
“Personally I would like to see it [Muslim migration] stopped now for Australia because I would like 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.”
Kruger read a prepared statement on air the next day, describing her views as extreme.
“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,” she said.
— ABC The Drum (@ABCthedrum) July 18, 2016
Mr Rauf said whether it was tackled in religious discrimination laws or separately, the debate needed to begin.
“There is an increasing trend of Islamophobia. There is no law currently in NSW that protects against that. It’s different in Victoria,” Mr Rauf said.
“It doesn’t fall squarely within the current debate, but I generally flagged it with the Prime Minister.”
The Sydney barrister said a “common experience” was hijab-wearing women being abused on public transport.
“Sadly, the people who tend to be faced with it is not men, but tend to be women and children,” Mr Rauf said.
“So, a woman on a train wearing a hijab … a common experience is men will come to her and intimidate her and say ‘Take off your veil, you terrorist’ or ‘Get out of here’.
“Things like that are quite traumatic.”