MP's 'Wogistan' rant a mistake - Peters

ANDREA VANCE AND KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 16:24 12/02/2013
Fairfax Media

NZ First leader Winston Peters on MP Richard Prosser's rant.

Richard Prosser
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
Richard Prosser.

'Wogistan' political comment

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NZ First leader Winston Peters says one of his MPs has not incited hatred by saying Muslims shouldn't be allowed on planes.

Richard Prosser said young men who were Muslim, "look like a Muslim" or came from a Muslim country should not be permitted to fly on "western" airlines, in an article he wrote for Investigate magazine.

Peters said this afternoon Prosser had made a mistake.

He said he knew about the article three weeks ago, and told Prosser it wasn't acceptable to present only one side of the argument.

"I've told him he cannot have a view that doesn't have the balance in the other side of the argument."

Prosser was not seen entering Parliament this afternoon and Peters said he was "busy working".

"I'm fronting up here to say that this is an extreme view which we don't share as a party."

Peters denied Prosser had incited hatred with his column.

"Before you all take that soft-headed approach, there is an element of truth to what he is saying... this has been happening over and over again... the part that there are far too many radical Muslim extremists... what's wrong about that is you cannot go and generalise in the erroneous way he did."

Bizarrely he added: "But if you think that multi-tens of billions of dollars in security today is helping the poor people, when we should be focused on that, I'd be concerned about your view of the world as well."

Prosser wrote the column as a journalist, not as a NZ First MP, and the views expressed were not those of the party, Peters said.

"I have spoken with Mr Prosser regarding the Investigate magazine article," Peters said in a prepared statement.

"He wrongfully impugned millions of law-abiding, peaceful Muslims. Mr Prosser agrees that the article did not have balance, and does not represent the views of New Zealand First."

Prosser told Newstalk ZB this afternoon that Israel's El Al airline banned Muslims and was one of the world's safest carriers.

"You have to look at where the problem is coming from, and history has shown us that the problem is coming from that particular quarter," he went on.

"I think it's completely appropriate that if we want to solve this particular aspect of aviation security, then that's where we need to be targeting our profile."

COMMENTS 'RACIST'

Ethnic Affairs Minister Judith Collins has warned Prosser's comments could cause "international embarrassment".
 
She called on Peters' to stop hiding his MP and said NZ First should familiarise itself with human rights legislation.

New Zealand prides itself on being an "inclusive society."

"It is simply appalling to profile people based on their religion, skin colour, country of origin, or a perceived stereo-typed 'look' as Mr Prosser has done," she said.

"Mr Prosser's anti-Muslim rant has let New Zealand down and as a Member of Parliament he should know better."

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Peters should explain "why Mr Prosser's behaviour is acceptable" to NZ First.

"The Office of Ethnic Affairs works closely with the Muslim community in New Zealand - a community that denounces terrorism and has vowed to work with authorities to counter any terrorism threat.

"We have a strong tradition of human rights in New Zealand. Our Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race and religious belief, and our Bill of Rights Act affirms the right to freedom of religion, including the right to hold views without interference.

"As far back as 1978, New Zealand ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which underlines the right to freedom of religion.

"I suggest Mr Peters and his caucus familiarise themselves with this legislation to avoid causing further embarrassment to New Zealand," says Ms Collins.

Dr Anwar Ghani, president of the Federation of Islamist Associations of New Zealand, said the comments were "racist and totally unacceptable".

"I think it's blatant racism and I feel sorry for those other parliamentarians who have to put up with him.

"I think people like him do not realise how their narrow-minded and extreme views undermine the good work done by others in Parliament at building relationships."

Ghani said the comments had the potential to harm economic relations with New Zealand if unnecessary weight was given to them.

He said Islamic countries made up a significant portion of New Zealand's trading partners.

"Education is a multimillion dollar industry here, and I could imagine some students not being very happy."

Ghani said the comments were "not good at all", but obviously not reflective of most of New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key said it was "an example of the depth of thinking in the NZ First caucus".

The remarks were "stupid and premeditated."

Asked if Prosser should be sacked, he said: "[Peters] critiques everything I say and it's a long way away from any of the comments that this guys does. Lets see what he does."

Labour leader David Shearer said the remarks were ''completely inappropriate for this Parliament".

"It's not something that came off the top of his head as a mistake, it was calculated. I think MPs... should act responsibly. And in this case I think it could lead to inciting violence."

Other nations - particularly in the Middle East - will look on New Zealand "with some disdain", Shearer said.

PEN KNIFE CONFISCATION 'INSPIRATION'

Prosser was inspired to write the two-page article entitled "Enemy of the State" after security officials confiscated his penknife at Christchurch airport. He said "ordinary people" were being treated like "suspects and pariahs".

Prosser argued that while all Muslims were not terrorists, most terrorists were Muslim. And his answer was to prohibit all Muslim males from "our aeroplanes."

He ranted: "I will not stand by while their [his daughters'] rights and freedoms of other New Zealanders and Westerners, are denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan."

And he added: "If you are a young male, aged between say about 19 and about 35, and you're a Muslim, or you look like a Muslim, or you come from a Muslim country, then you are not welcome to travel on any of the West's airlines..."

He said they shouldn't be allowed to fly again until Islam has "taken upon itself and proven it is able to prevent extremists".

And he appeared to know how controversial his views were, writing that some commentators would  take"umbridge" at his writing. "And not only because I am an MP."

Kiwiblog's David Farrar branded the column "seriously offensive."

Prosser wrote his column for Investigate for 10 years before releasing a book last year. He claimed to be a "Kiwi Nationalist".

Prosser ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Waimakariri electorate in 2011, getting only 538 votes. He joined Parliament as a list MP for the party.

- Stuff

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