Shearer condemns Peters' response to 'Wogistan' MP

Last updated 09:17 13/02/2013

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NZ First leader Winston Peters' response to Richard Prosser's anti-Muslim comments was ''insufficient'' Labour leader David Shearer says.

Shearer had come in for criticism yesterday for not being strong enough in his initial condemnation of Prosser's comments, which included a call for Muslims to banned from western airlines.

He also referred to a ''sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan'' in a column sparked by having his pocket penknife confiscated at an airline security check in Christchurch.

Today Shearer toughened up his stance, though he continued to insist it was a matter for Peters whether Prosser was stood down.

''I would have thought where he's gone at the moment is insufficient,'' Shearer said.

''If it was in my party I would stand him down. That's for Winston Peters to decide.''

For his part it was ''not a question of being non-committal, it's simply it's another party.''

He said Prosser had brought an unnecessary reflection on New Zealand's parliament.

''If it was in anywhere else - perhaps even in New Zealand - it could incite violence.''

At the very least Prosser should apologise.

On current polling Labour would need NZ First to have a chance of governing.

Prosser's comments were reported widely around the world, including in Malaysia, Singapore, Gulf states, the United States and Europe.

In Singapore the story appeared with a photo of an Air New Zealand plane.

Peters said Prosser made a mistake, the column was unbalanced and Prosser had "wrongfully impugned millions of law-abiding, peaceful Muslims".

But he has refused to stand him down or demand he apologise.

Peters himself was at the centre of a controversy over Muslims in 2005 when he said New Zealand's history of religious tolerance and free speech was threatened by Muslim migrants who "do not share our traditions".

"In New Zealand the Muslim community has been quick to show us their more moderate face, but there is a militant underbelly here as well,'' Peters said in a speech to a Grey Power meeting in Kaitaia.

"These two groups, the moderate and militant, fit hand and glove.''

In his 2005 comments Peters said the agenda was to promote fundamentalist Islam.

''Indeed these groups are like the mythical Hydra, a serpent underbelly with multiple heads, capable of striking at any time and in any direction.''

He called on local Islamic leaders at the time to name radicals, troublemakers and potential dangers.

In an interview yesterday, just before he went to ground, Prosser, 45, stood by his views and said an Israeli airline that bans Muslims is one of the world's safest carriers.

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Outraged Muslim leaders said recent overtures Peters and NZ First had made to their community, stressing their mainstream credentials, were now meaningless.

Former Labour MP Ashraf Choudhary, a Muslim, called on Peters to ''remove this cancer from the party".

"It's uncalled for and racist. This kind of person has got no place in our Parliament."

Prime Minister John Key has said the comments were "premeditated" and "buffoonish''.

- Stuff

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