WELLINGTON - A New Zealander lawmaker has triggered outrage by calling for banning Muslims from flights, inviting flaks from government officials and residents.
It's an appalling thing to say, it's stupid, New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key was quoted as saying by New Zealand TV on Tuesday, February 12.
Lawmaker of New Zealand First Richard Prosser said in a column that young people who look like Muslims or come from a Muslim country should be banned from flying on Western Airlines flights.
If you are a young male, aged between say about 19 and about 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 wrote.
I will not stand by while [his daughters'] rights and freedoms of other New Zealanders and Westerners are denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan.
The lawmaker's comments came after his pocket knife was confiscated at Christchurch Airport.
He argues that he, as a member of parliament, should not be targeted at airports.
But Premier Key said the anti-Muslim comments were an example of the depth of thinking coming out of the New Zealand First caucus.
It was pre-meditated because he wrote it as an opinion piece, it's clearly what New Zealand First think of other New Zealanders. It's a bit buffoonish, if you ask me.
Ethnic affairs minister Judith Collins said the lawmaker's comments were extremely disappointing.
New Zealand values diversity and prides itself on being an inclusive society, she said.
Muslims in New Zealand are also a diverse community and it is simply appalling to profile people based on their religion, skin color, country of origin or a perceived stereo-typed look as Prosser has done.
Prosser's anti-Muslim rant has let New Zealand down and as a member of parliament he should know better.
The Office of Ethnic Affairs works closely with the Muslim community in New Zealand - a community that denounces terrorism and has vowed to work with authorities to counter any terrorism threat.
The south-pacific island country of New Zealand is home to 36,000 Muslims, according to the 2006 census.
Party leaders have distanced themselves from the anti-Muslim comments by the lawmaker.
Facing backlash from the published article, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has distanced himself from Prosser's views.
"I've told him you cannot go and generalize in the erroneous way he did," party leader Winston Peters told ABC News.
"He wrongfully impugned millions of law-abiding, peaceful Muslims.
"Prosser agrees that the article did not have balance and does not represent the views of New Zealand First."
New Zealanders have taken to social media to express their thoughts on the lawmaker's comments.
Well aside from your gross generalization, how exactly are you going to define who is a Muslim male? Just keep out all the ones that are the wrong 'color', or make them all state their religion on their passports.. Maybe just ban certain countries from coming here? Hayden Johnstone posted on Prosser's Facebook page.
Izaak Hayes asked: Why on earth would you assume that every person who identifies with the Muslim religion is a terrorist?
On Twitter, many people have questioned why the lawmaker thought he could travel carrying a knife.
I don't know what a Muslim is supposed to look like but after your comments I sure know how to spot a bigot, Dominic Hutching tweeted.
David Farrar from Kiwi Blog described Prosser's column as appalling and seriously offensive.
Farrar said he thinks the pros and cons of profiling is a valid discussion.
But one can have that discussion without referring to Muslims implicitly as Wogs and without calling for Muslims to be banned from flying on Western airlines, he said on his blog.
Taking Richard literally, Air New Zealand should refuse to accept any passengers from Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Malaysia etc if they are a young male.I can only imagine look like a Muslim means if you look South East Asian or Persian or Arabic or Turkish etc? Never mind that they may in fact be Christian or Hindu or anything.