Controversial European students group folds after 'constant threats to safety'
A European students club has formally disbanded amid claims of white nationalism and alleged threats of violence.
A storm of controversy erupted after Auckland University announced the Auckland University European Students Association would be permitted to recruit at orientation week.
The group displays Celtic symbols, commonly used by white supremacist groups, on its Facebook page.
It also displays artworks depicting Captain Cook and the unification of Germany, alongside slogans such as "strength through honour" and "our pride is our honour and loyalty".
Auckland University Students' Association (AUSA) president Will Matthews and university academics expressed concern about the imagery and slogans, saying they were "typical of white supremacist nationalist groups".
The slogan "our pride is our honour and loyalty" was very similar to the slogan "my honour is called loyalty", the motto of the Nazi SS, Matthews said.
"I think that is raising the most alarm. There's a point where fervent nationalism and patriotism becomes white pride, becomes white supremacy."
Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said she would be keeping an eye on" the club.
"I am a Kiwi with European heritage, I'm very proud of my Irish roots – but this doesn't mean limiting the rights of anyone else."
However, the group hit back at those claims, saying it aimed simply to "promote European culture on campus" and was open to people "of all nationalities and beliefs".
In an overnight post on its Facebook page, the group announced that it was calling it quits due to threats of violence.
It had withdrawn its application to be affiliated with the AUSA, the post said.
"Sadly, it has become extremely dangerous for AUESA to continue with the appalling rhetoric by people on and off campus regarding our group.
"The constant threats to our safety, exposure of privacy, and general abuse the group and individuals have received is simply unacceptable, dangerous and extremely worrying."
The group rejected accusations of racism and fascism and had been "shocked" at the "false and slanderous accusations", the post said.
"It will be a great loss to all of us who wanted to explore the diverse range of cultures found in Europe and the roots of our society itself.
"Many people are interested in the heritage of this great continent and in what history can offer us moving forwards.
"This move should signify where true fascism lies, as those of us who did not intend to have any political association are having our legitimate interest in a cultural club shut down with credible threats of violence."