Mohammed Attai on Q&A on Monday. Ms Hanson repeatedly asked Mr Dastyari if he was a Muslim on Q&A. Photo: ABC TV
Mr Attai has also extended his dinner invitation to Sonia Kruger. Photo: Channel Nine
Nick Xenophon has indicated he would be “interested in joining” the dinner with Mr Attai and Pauline Hanson. Photo: Andrew Meares
He made headlines inviting Pauline Hanson to dinner on the ABC’s Q&A program and now Muslim audience member Mohammed Attai has extended the offer to Sonia Kruger.
Inspired by Labor Senator Sam Dastyari’s election-night offer to take Ms Hanson out for a halal snack pack in western Sydney, Mr Attai seized the opportunity on Monday night to invite Ms Hanson to lunch or dinner.
“I believe the best way to increase understanding and mutual respect is through interaction,” the 30-year-old Sydney psychologist said.
“I understand you declined Sam Dastyari’s offer for a halal snack pack. Would you be willing to take my offer inviting you to lunch or dinner — whichever suits you best — with me and my Muslim family, and … while we have something halal I’ll ensure you have something which is not halal. A haram snack pack. Would you kindly accept my invitation?”
Ms Hanson, who rebuffed Senator Dastyari’s offer with a curt “not happening”, said it was “a kind invitation” and she was “quite happy to spend time with many Australians.”
“We can talk,” the One Nation leader and Senator-elect said.
“You can get in touch with my office and see what happens, yeah.”
Monday’s Q&Acapped off a day of heated debate over bigotry and free speech after Kruger — the co-host of the Nine Network’s mid-morning program Today Extra — sparked controversy by calling for a ban on Muslims immigrating to Australia.
Ms Hanson praised Kruger for her comments, exclaiming “Go Sonia!”.
Mr Attai, who practises as a psychologist in Auburn, Merrylands and Mount Kuring-gai, told Fairfax Media he had emailed Ms Hanson’s office to renew the invitation and was “waiting for a response”.
He now wanted to extend the invitation to Kruger.
“I was a fan of Sonia Kruger,” Mr Attai said, adding he did not want to condemn her for one comment.
“I do think that banning all Muslims [from immigrating to Australia] is very, very incorrect … and actually incites further hatred but at the same time that’s her opinion.
“I’m not sure if she still holds it; she didn’t necessarily retract that but it could be the case.
“At the same time [in light of] the campaigns someone like Pauline Hanson might run it’s understandable why people might have such thoughts and positions.”
He said that was why “breaking bread over a meal, even if it’s not halal” was important and “the invitation extends to Sonia as well, of course”.
Mr Attai said Senator Dastyari and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, who joined Ms Hanson on Monday night’s Q&A panel, “were interested in joining” the lunch or dinner party.
He copied them into the invitation emailed to Ms Hanson’s office. Senator Dastyari had responded already and “Nick [was] excited that he’ll make a special recipe octopus”, he said, so he was just “awaiting Pauline”.
Mr Attai said he wanted to welcome the politicians to his home but “even a neutral mutually agreed place would be ok”.
He said he was “hopeful” Ms Hanson would seize the opportunity. It would be an “excellent demonstration” from a political leader to ordinary Australians, many of whom “probably haven’t interacted with Muslims or have negative ideas about Muslims and Islam”.
It would send a message that “they too can be enticed or encouraged to just sit down and have a meal and break bread with them. I think interaction will diffuse a lot of tension.”
“Meeting with people humanises them, you know, it humanises the other,” he said.
Mr Attai, whose wife is from Iraq, said his parents were from Afghanistan. He was born in India and came to Australia when he was eight years old.
Channel Nine and Ms Hanson were approached for comment.
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