'The Voice Australia' Host Calls for Muslim Immigration Ban Down Under
Nine Network personality Sonia Kruger says she "wants to feel safe" while acknowledging that her views might be considered "extreme."
The Voice Australia and daytime TV host Sonia Kruger on Tuesday defended comments she made the previous day on the Nine Network, calling for Australia to put a halt to Muslim immigration.
In the controversial comments made on Nine’s breakfast TV show, Today, Kruger, who has also hosted Big Brother and Dancing With the Stars in Australia, said: “Personally, I would like to see it [Muslim migration] stop now for Australia."
“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 said.
Kruger said she was moved to speak out after watching the horrific news footage of the Bastille Day tragedy in Nice, France, over the weekend.
Saying she agreed with conservative News Corp. columnist Andrew Bolt, who wrote on Monday, "Why have jihadist terrorists made France Europe’s bloodiest battlefield? Simple answer: Because France let in the most Muslims," Kruger said, "Andrew Bolt has a point here, that there is a correlation between the number of people who are Muslim in a country and the number of terrorist attacks."
She said she had "a lot of friends who are Muslim who are peace-loving, who are beautiful people, but there are fanatics."
“If you look at Japan, it has a population of 174 million and 100,000 Muslims, and you never hear of terrorist attacks in Japan,” she added.
Subsequently on Twitter, Kruger wrote, “as a mother, I believe it’s vital in a democratic society to be able to discuss these issues without automatically being labeled racist.”
The Nine Network defended its star, saying in a statement that it believes in "freedom of speech, and the Mixed Grill segment on The Today Show is a place where that happens. Sonia, David and Lisa each expressed a variety of opinions on the show this morning.”
The comments unleashed a a firestorm of debate on both social and traditional media down under, with Kruger variously described as racist and brave for airing her personal views.
Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane tweeted afterwards: “This stereotyping of Muslims does nothing but breed hate.”
The president of the Islamophobia Register Australia, lawyer Mariam Veiszadeh, told public broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that Kruger's comments could be inflammatory and risked being fed directly into Islamic State propaganda.
"People have a right to be concerned [after the Nice attack], we cannot control what the terrorists do, but we can control how we react to them," she said. "I would urge everyone to consider how we are responding and to ensure that we are responding in a way that does not add fuel to the fire. Her proposal unfortunately is not only potentially unconstitutional but also potentially in breach of international legal obligations and also runs the risk of feeding directly into ISIS propaganda."
In an emotional defense Tuesday, Kruger told her morning TV audience, “I acknowledge my views yesterday may have been extreme,” but she’d been “rocked to the core” by recent acts of terrorism.
“We have witnessed too many atrocities in the name of terrorism. Last week’s attack on men, women and children in Nice left me in utter disbelief. I saw the image of a baby covered in a plastic sheet with a doll lying beside her…the thought that it could happen here terrifies me.”
“It’s a complex issue with no simple answer that cannot be fully discussed on a simple TV segment,” the TV host added.
“It’s a privilege to live in Australia, which embraces a multicultural society, but there is no simple answer here, and if we are to find a solution to a situation, at the very least we need to be able to discuss it,” Kruger finished.