MP’s anti-Muslim comments have drawn widespread condemnation from all quarters.
NZ First Party’s Richard Prosser, writing in a column in Investigate magazine, said young men who were Muslim, “look like a Muslim” or come from a Muslim country should not be permitted to fly on “western” airlines.
He also refers to “misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan”. 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 wrote that while all Muslims were not terrorists, most terrorists were Muslim. And his answer is to prohibit all Muslim males from “our aeroplanes.”
He went on: “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 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 says they shouldn’t be allowed to fly again until Islam has “taken upon itself and proven it is able to prevent extremists”.
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,” Dr Ghani told the Stuff website. “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.”
Dr 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.
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.
National List MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi has condemned these anti-Muslim comments by Prosser.
“Mr Prosser’s uninformed and offensive comments have the potential to seriously damage New Zealand’s international reputation, and our standing as a fair and tolerant nation,” Mr Bakshi said.
“New Zealand prides itself on being an inclusive society, and we have a very strong tradition of human rights. However, from time to time we are reminded that closed-mindedness still exists in our community.
“As a Sikh, and member of a minority community, I understand how hurtful comments like this can be. Mr Prosser’s suggestions have absolutely no place in our Parliament, or our country.”
NZ First leader Winston Peters said this week 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’m fronting up here to say that this is an extreme view which we don’t share as a party.”
Mr 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,” Mr Peters said.
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”.
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.