Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:
NZ First MPs are privately seething at Richard Prosser’s call for Muslims to be banned from Western airlines.
I’m not surprised.
There are some good people in NZ First. I’m no fan of Winston but some of his MPs are trying to be productive Representatives in Parliament. I’m sure they are cringing at the thought of having to explain to their friends and families how they are part of a party where an MP can refer to Muslims coming from Wogistan and calls on anyone who is “or looks like” a Muslim being banned from air travel if they are a young male.
The list MP went to ground yesterday after his remarks were widely publicised and provoked controversy. NZ First leader Winston Peters has refused to sack him and says he doesn’t have to apologise.
They should be equally angry at Winston. He has made it impossible for them to distance themselves from the views expressed, as not even the bare minimum of an apology has been given. They have no defence against people saying they are part of a party that effectively allows MPs to label some New Zealanders as wogs and that wogs shouldn’t be allowed on our planes.
A NZ First source said its MPs were furious and believed Mr Prosser “acted like a stupid idiot”.
Did no one in NZ First think to vet the column before publication. It is common in pretty much every party for columns to be go through the Leader’s Office in advance. You can’t allow an MP to claim they are a journalist and an MP, and what they write as a journalist is exempt.
And if I was in NZ First, I’d also be annoyed that the Leader knew about the column for three weeks and did nothing.
In a later interview he stood by his views and went on to say that an Israeli airline that bans Muslims is one of the world’s safest carriers.
Incidentally this is wrong. They do not ban Muslims. And having travelled to Israel let me tell you the security there is far more rigorous than merely losing a pocket knife as happened to Prosser. It took me over an hour to clear security – and you know I don’t “look like a Muslim” so the references to Israel are quite wrong.
“We are a mature party, we don’t go round telling people off. After a rational discussion he has changed his mind,” Mr Peters said. “. . . We can’t take it any further than that. He’s had a chance to reflect . . . he admits it was unbalanced.”
The comments have gained some attention overseas, being well covered by Australian news organisations and turning up further afield in such publications as the Singapore-based Straits Times and Channel NewsAsia, Dubai-based Gulf News, and the UK edition of the Huffington Post.
I doubt there is another country on Earth where a legislator has actually seriously called for a travel ban on anyone who “looks likes a Muslim”, and is young and male.
UPDATE: The spin doctors have now got to Prosser and after saying he stands by what he wrote yesterday, he today said on Nine to Noon he regrets his choice of words (yet defends the use of the word wog!) and that he should have called for a debate on profiling, not a travel ban. There is a world of difference between what he wrote and what he now says he should have written.
He’s also trying to distract by saying my release of the story was part of a National strategy to cover up some (unidentified) other issue. Maybe he means the Papal abdication?
As I tweeted this morning, no one in National knew of my blog post before I made it. The only person who knew would be my flatmate after I showed him the article last night. You see, I only purchased a copy of Investigate on Monday afternoon, read the column with disbelief, and wrote my post that night timing it for 10 am Tuesday. So the conspiracy theory is just a desperate attempt to divert attention.
UPDATE 2: A very personal blog post from a Kiwi Muslim on what Prosser said.
I am a Bengali New Zealander. I am also a feminist, a bookworm, a foodie and a cinephile. Some days I have good taste in music and some days I have bad taste in music. I love the beach but hate getting sand everywhere. I speak several languages. I still get upset at the thought that Dumbledore dies. When I lived in Auckland, I thought of West Auckland as home. Now that I live in Wellington, I think of Auckland as home, and of Wellington as “my city,” whatever that means. I bake decent brownies (oh the irony).
Oh, yes, I am also a Muslim. …
Richard Prosser’s comments hurt because he’s saying I’m not a real New Zealander. I am an Other. I am suspect because I don’t, undoubtedly, look like his daughters. My little brother, now 20, studying a Bachelor of Commerce, with his terribly cheesy sense of humour and his kind, kind heart, who loves his sports and protein shakes but who I will partly always think of as that bossy toddler with chubby cheeks, is for no other reason than because Mr Prosser, from his position of power and privilege says so, not enough of a New Zealander. Because of only one thing, out of the many things that he is, because he is Muslim. Not enough of a New Zealander to deserve the minimum modicum of respect one would expect from an MP when talking about one of the citizens of this country, simply based on his faith, and, let’s be honest, the colour of his skin. Not enough of a New Zealander to get on his Western planes.
A very personal and moving post.
UPDATE3: The Radio NZ audio is embdedded below.