Almost a decade after a diatribe about the danger posed by Muslims, popular broadcaster Alan Jones has been ordered to pay damages for “portraying Lebanese Muslim males as criminals and … as posing a threat to the Australian community.”
The New Daily The ruling, by the Civil and Administrative Tribunal NSW, comes almost a decade after Jones read out a letter from a listener on 2GB referring to Lebanese men as “vermin” who “infest our shores”.
This led to complaint from Keysar Trad, who at the time was the head of the Lebanese Muslim Association.
While the tribunal did not accept (nor reject) Mr Trad’s assertion that the letter was written by Mr Jones or a member of his production staff, it ruled that there was “no doubt that Mr Jones endorsed the views of the correspondent”. It said the broadcast “used contemptuous and hateful language”.
“He portrayed Lebanese males as criminals and as not only ungrateful, but as posing a threat to the Australian community,” the tribunal said. “The words, in context, urged or stimulated listeners to hatred or, at least, serious contempt of Lebanese males.”
It rejected the suggestion that the broadcast served any public interest purpose, ruling that it was “gratuitously insulting and offensive”. “It is simply not reasonable to malign and denigrate Lebanese males in general in the context of discussing a particular incident involving a small [group] of Lebanese men.”
The broadcast followed a segment on A Current Affair depicting offensive behaviour by young men at Brighton-Le-Sands and in Hickson Road near The Rocks, including mocking Anzac Day.
Mr Jones told his audience that “these people announced themselves as Lebanese Muslims”, although he and 2GB later acknowledged that “no one on the A Current Affair program referred to the Lebanese males as Muslims”.
The tribunal said there was no doubt that Mr Jones’ broadcast would have influenced the views of a significant portion of his audience. “Mr Jones is one of the most powerful and influential radio presenters in Australia. It can be inferred that an ordinary member of his audience respected and tended to agree with his views.”
Example of Jones’ outspokenness on the Muslim problem: