Collins dismisses call to establish Islamic tourism

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 08:16 13/02/2012
TDN judith stand
ANDY JACKSON
JUDITH COLLINS: Ethnic Affairs Minister.

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A Government report calling for promotion of strictly Islamic tourism in New Zealand has been disowned by Ethnic Affairs Minister Judith Collins.

In a briefing to its incoming minister, the Office of Ethnic Affairs had called for halal tourism, along with the creation of a New Zealand constitution entrenching ethnic social rights that could include Sharia or Islamic law.

However, Ms Collins said the briefing did not reflect Government policy. "It is not a Government policy document."

The Office of Ethnic Affairs, which costs $6 million a year to run, urged the new minister to raise awareness of halal tourism as an "emerging opportunity". It defines halal tourism as incorporating activities and services that are in keeping with Islamic law.

Countries such as Malaysia and Turkey encouraged it by offering separate beaches, swimming pools and spas, separate aircraft seating for men and women, hotels free of alcohol, gambling and pork, and halal food and a Koran in aircraft seat pockets.

Last year the Government, as part of its deal with the Maori Party, set up a panel to consider constitutional arrangements. The briefing to Ms Collins says: "Ethnic communities are keen to discuss the development of a multicultural policy to entrench the civil, political, social and language rights of ethnic people in New Zealand.

"The potential for multicultural policy, including legislation, is gaining voice within ethnic communities, and is likely to be raised with you."

University of Auckland constitutional law Professor Bill Hodge said special privilege for one group went against a basic principle that accident of birth should not mean privilege.

"If we are setting up Sharia and special rules for certain people, does that mean a Muslim would not be prosecuted under the Crimes Act for a second, third and fourth wife?" Fairfax NZ

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