Sonia Kruger has addressed her controversial remarks on halting Muslim immigration, acknowledging “my views yesterday may have been extreme”.
Repeating that she was moved by the horrific images of recent violence in France, the presenter began her Today Extra broadcast on Tuesday morning by stressing that she has "complete respect for people of all races, and religions", but did not retract her views.
“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 and it rocked me to the very core,” she said.
“The discussion we had was centred around a newspaper article which measured the correlation of Muslim population in certain countries and the number of certain terrorist attacks. I thought the article made relevant points.
“It is a hugely complex and sensitive issue. It's an issue with no simple answer,” Kruger went on, before adding that she believes it is the role of elected politicians to make calls on immigration.
Her remarks, which echo Donald Trump's highly controversial policies, have been widely discussed on social media to the extent that “Sonia Kruger” began trending on Twitter.
Many users were quick to point out the flaws in her argument like how Australia’s rich experience with multiculturalism cannot be compared to that of France or any other country, and that a ban on a certain group of people because of their religious beliefs is discriminatory, inflammatory and harmful to social cohesion.
Others meanwhile, were countering calls of racism by defending Kruger’s right to freely express an opinion regardless of the nature - a stance echoed by her fellow Nine Network colleague, Sylvia Jeffreys.
Despite making it clear she did not agree with her fellow presenter, Jeffreys told her Today Show audience, “Sonia is not racist. She is a compassionate, intelligent and thoughtful person. She spoke yesterday with brutal honesty on her emotions as a mother.”
Jeffreys’ fiancé and fellow Nine reporter Peter Stefanovic also weighed in during the program’s ”Mixed Grill” discussion panel, saying Kruger’s words feed the kind of hate and division that terrorists breed off.
“ISIS is creating fear and that is exactly what they want. They want Sonia to say those kinds of things, you know?” he said.
On Monday Kruger appeared as part of a panel discussion on an article by conservative commentator Andrew Bolt on Islamic terrorism.
"There is a correlation between the number of Muslims in a country and the number of terrorist attacks," she said in response to claims made in the column.
“Personally, I would like to see it [Muslim migration] stop 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."