By Elham Asaad Buaras
New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser
A New Zealand politician has apologised after his call for young Muslims to be banned from flying on Western airlines sparked condemnation from Muslim groups and across the political spectrum.
“I realise that’s caused offence to those people unjustifiably and unnecessarily and I’m apologising to them unreservedly,” said New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser.
However the 45 year old insisted there needs to be a debate about the merits of targeted profiling of passengers claiming the policy has made Israeli airline El Al “one of the safest”.
Writing in his Investigate column after his Swiss army knife was confiscated at Christchurch Airport, Prosser referred to “a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from ‘Wogistan’ threatening the Western way of life and travel security in the name of stone-age religion”.
“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.
Prime Minister, John Key, said he was “appalled” by the comments, while the New Zealand Muslim Association called them “senseless”.
NZ First Leader Winston Peters initially said there was “an element of truth’ to what Prosser wrote but that his MP had failed to balance his attack by acknowledging that the majority of Muslims were law abiding.
In a subsequent statement, Peters said Prosser comments did not represent the views of the Party and that he had “wrongfully impugned millions of law-abiding, peaceful Muslims”.
Prosser said Peters doesn’t vet his columns, which he’s been writing in Investigate for over a decade, claiming they were separate from his MP duties and party policy.
He believed it was appropriate for him as an MP to make his views heard, saying: “This is what we are here for. We are here to represent and speak about the issues and concerns that people have.”
Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira said Prosser’s comments were racist, and without basis in fact.
“It’s kinda [sic] like saying that no 19 to 35 year-old white guys should be allowed to go anywhere because they cause so many wars around the world.”
Harawira said: “It’s best that [his comments] they’re actually expressed openly because when people hold views as extreme as that, it’s best that we hear them.”
Act Party Leader John Banks said the comments were “crazy” and “bizarre”, while Labour Leader David Shearer believed they could hurt New Zealand’s international reputation.