5 May 2011

Harawira apologises for bin Laden comments

10:25 pm on 5 May 2011

Independent MP Hone Harawira has backed away from comments he made about Osama Bin Laden, saying he never intended to express support for his actions.

The al-Qaeda leader, widely believed to be the mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, was shot dead in a raid on Sunday by American special forces in Pakistan.

The MP for Te Tai Tokerau told Television New Zealand's Te Karere programme this week that bin Laden's family and people are mourning for a man who fought for the rights, land and freedom of his people.

The comments have been condemned by Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson as unworthy of an MP.

"I thought it was quite inappropriate - it's hyperbolic language that does not do justice to those who lost their lives on that dreadful day."

On Thursday afternoon Mr Harawira issued a statement apologising for the way he expressed himself, saying using terror for political reasons is never acceptable.

Mr Harawira said his comments were seen by some as support for bin Laden's actions - and that was not intended.

The MP says Maori do not speak ill of someone who has died, even if such a person has done bad things.