Television personality Sonia Kruger has been widely mocked on social media after calling on air for a ban on Muslim migration to Australia. Earlier this week, reacting to the terror attack in Nice, Kruger said, “Personally I would like to see it [the immigration of Muslims] 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.”
She went on to defend the comments on Twitter, justifying the remarks by citing her concern “as a mother.”
“Following the atrocities of last week in Nice, where 10 children lost their lives, as a mother, I believe it’s vital in a democratic society to be able to discuss these issues without being labelled racist,” she wrote.
The hashtag #AsAMother has been trending in Australia, where many are using it to call out Kruger for racism at worst and ignorance at best.
#asamother I'd like to think I could leave a war-torn country and settle my children safely, somewhere else, without judgement.
— Vanessa Hiser (@VanessaHiser) July 19, 2016
#asamother I believe all children regardless of their race, religion or sexuality should be safe and welcome everywhere
— ℜ𝔥𝔦 𝔐𝔢𝔬𝔴 🌈✨ (@Rhimeowmeow) July 18, 2016
— Amy Feldtmann (@AmyFeldtmann) July 18, 2016
#Asamother, Sonia Kruger, you should be teaching your children to avoid division & small-mindedness, not perpetuating it yourself.
— Emily (@Emilitaa23) July 18, 2016
Kruger’s position was lauded by Pauline Hanson — the founder of the anti-immigration, nationalist One Nation party, who was recently elected to the Australian Senate.
On Tuesday, Kruger continued to defend her position on morning television, while conceding that her comments were “extreme.” But she said Australia must “be able to discuss” the problem of terror attacks.
Popular Australian Muslim commentator and TV presenter Waleed Aly weighed in thoughtfully in an editorial on Monday night, in which he noted that he shared common ground with Kruger — fear for Australia’s future — and called for an end to the “cycle of outrage.”
“Where we’re presented with something that we perceive to be an outrageous opinion we can consider what motivated that person and try to understand their fear,” he said. “Because the truth is that what motivates them is fear, and fear is the one thing we’re all sharing right now because I’m scared too. I’m afraid for this country.
“I can’t escape the thought that how we deal with our fear is becoming the defining measure that determines us as a people. Awful news leads to fear which leads to an outrageous statement, which leads to a pile-on, which leads to a hardening of positions.”
Kruger, he said, is not evil — she is afraid.
Aly said people should not be silent in the face of bigotry, but when engaging with someone you disagreed with, “show generosity in the face of their hostility.”
“And this is the much harder choice because it demands much more restraint and patience, and so much more strength,” he said.
“I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen outrage go viral. Wouldn’t it be amazing if just once we could send forgiveness viral? These are dark times. But the best thing to do is reach for a flashlight and not start a fire.”