Alan Jones guilty of vilifying Muslims

2GB’s Alan Jones has been found guilty of vilifying Lebanese Muslims in his ‘Cronulla Riot’ broadcasts of April 2005. The station has been ordered to pay $10,000 in damages by the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal and to issue an apology.

The tribunal found that complaints of racial vilification against two respondents were substantiated, but the balance of the complaint was dismissed. Under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, damages of $10,000 are to be paid within 21 days to Keysar Trad, who made the complaint, and an apology must be aired.

The ruling was made under a different section of law from the earlier defamation action brought by Keyser Trad against 2GB.

The tribunal’s reasons for the decision included the following:

For a number of days in April 2005, Mr Alan Jones, a popular radio talk-back broadcaster and commentator, made observations, expressed opinions and read letters and emails from listeners on his 2GB morning radio show which, taken as a whole, Mr Keyser Trad alleges constituted unlawful vilification of Muslims, Lebanese Muslims, Lebanese people and others. Mr Trad, who was born in Lebanon and now lives in Sydney with his family is a practising Muslim. He alleges that segments of the broadcasts made by Mr Jones incited listeners of the programs to hatred towards, or serious contempt for, amongst others, members of the Lebanese Muslim community living in New South Wales…

A number of themes emerged in the broadcasts which Mr Jones related together:

among them were a speech by a Lebanese-Australian Muslim cleric called Sheik Faiz Mohammed; the allegedly inflammatory nature of that speech which Mr Jones interpreted as an excuse for or incitement of sexual assaults by Muslim men upon non-Muslim women and as blaming the victims for the crimes committed against them;

the fact that the speech was given to a large audience of Muslim people in the Bankstown area; the alleged reaction or lack of reaction by the audience and, in particular, people identified by Mr Jones only as “the Muslim leadership”;

the fear of non-Muslim women; the anti-social behaviour of “car hoons”, identified by Mr Jones as Lebanese Muslim youths, in the Rocks area and Brighton-le-sands and their disrespect for police; the feebleness of police in response to the behaviour of the “car hoons” due to the weakness of police management and government;

the need for a populist reaction against this weakness; Mr Jones’s view that Australia is a not multi-racial but a mono-cultural society; and his view that this monoculture is under threat from “enemies within”. In the last two days, after apparently receiving hundreds of emails from Muslim listeners, a theme also developed that many of the “Muslim rank-and-file” had disowned their “leadership” in favour of the type of leadership offered by Mr Jones…

Mr Trad, who was invited onto the programme by Mr Jones, while condemning and distancing himself from Sheik Faiz Mohammed’s speech, was, nevertheless, subjected to trenchant criticism by Mr Jones, both during the interview and when Mr Trad was not able to respond on air.

Whether Mr Jones himself knew that he was offending, or intended to offend or to hold out the Lebanese Muslim community to the contempt of others, is irrelevant to this consideration. The answer is gauged by how an independent and reasonable observer would comprehend the broadcasts.

To read the full ruling, click the link below.