Calls for Prosser to resign over Muslim comments

Updated at 10:32 pm on 13 February 2013

Politicians from across the House are demanding that New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser resign, despite his apology over comments made about Muslims.

Mr Prosser has apologised unreservedly for impugning many peaceful, law-abiding Muslims in a magazine column.

Writing in Investigate, Mr Prosser called for young Muslim men, men who look Muslim or who are from a Muslim country to be banned from Western airlines.

The MP wrote that he won't stand by while New Zealanders' freedoms are denigrated by "a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan".

Mr Prosser said on Wednesday he accepts his column failed to make it clear that the vast majority of Muslims aren't involved in terrorism and apologises to those people unreservedly.

But the MP is not off the hook with many of his parliamentary colleagues, who say he should resign.

Together with New Zealand First, Labour and the Greens could form a government after the next election in 2014.

But Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says her party wouldn't want to work with Richard Prosser if there are post-election negotiations between it and New Zealand First, but stopped short of ruling out a deal.

"It think it's very difficult. We do not want Richard Prosser. As a challenge to New Zealand First: do they want to have in their caucus a person who will incite racial hatred like this?

"We will deal with the future scenarios of whatever parties are back in Parliament after the next election - who knows what that will look like?"

Ms Turei called for Mr Prosser to resign. "I think that he has proven himself to be too irresponsible for the office of a Member of Parliament and to be a representative of New Zealand on the national stage. I mean, this is hate speech that he's talking about here."

The Prime Minister says it is too early to start making declarations about whether National would work with New Zealand First - regardless of whether Mr Prosser is still with the party.

John Key was asked by reporters on Wednesday whether having Mr Prosser as a New Zealand First MP would make a deal after the 2014 election more unlikely.

"Look, in 2014 we'll make a decision on whether we can work with New Zealand First or not," he replied. "That's always typically what we've done - decided in an election year. Come back and ask me then."

The Federation of Muslim Associations wants Mr Prosser stood down from Parliament for his comments. President Anwar Ghani said on Wednesday he does not accept the MP's apology, describing the comments as ignorant and irresponsible.

Listen to report on Checkpoint ( 3 min 50 sec )

Prosser dealt with - Peters

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters told reporters on Wednesday that Mr Prosser has been reprimanded and no further action would be taken.

Mr Peters said he has had a long talk with the MP about what is expected of him in the future.

"Well, I think he's been given a kick where the sun don't shine and he'll probably be eating his meals off the mantelpiece for the next week.

"And at the end of the experience he'll probably be a better MP."

Mr Peters said it is an in-house matter for New Zealand First and has been dealt with.

I went too far, MP admits

In an interview with Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme on Wednesday, Richard Prosser said he now accepts that he went too far.

"We're only talking about a very small, extremist minority and I didn't have the balance in there that would enable a reader to separate the fact that the majority of Muslims are peaceful, law abiding people. That's obviously caused an upset and for that I'm sorry."

Mr Prosser said his remarks had caused unjustifiable offence to the vast majority of law-abiding Muslims and he apologised unreservedly. In hindsight, the MP said he should not have called for a blanket travel ban, but rather a debate about the merits of targeted profiling.

He said the 'shock jock' style he has been using for his magazine articles is no longer appropriate and he will probably have to give up his column, as he cannot separate the comments he writes from his role as an MP and member of New Zealand First.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said on Tuesday that Mr Prosser had realised his article was not balanced, wrongfully impugned a whole lot of innocent people and does not represent the views of New Zealand First. However, Mr Peters had stopped short of saying that Mr Prosser should apologise.

Listen to full interview with Richard Prosser on Nine to Noon ( 22 min 14 sec )

Comments 'not a good look for NZ'

Prime Minister John Key said Richard Prosser's comments are not a good look for New Zealand - apology or not - and it does not reflect well upon the country when an MP says the Muslim community can't be trusted and shouldn't be allowed on a plane.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said an apology was due for the "gratuitously offensive" statements. He said it is disappointing to hear such anti-Muslim comments from an MP.

A British MP and vocal supporter of Islam said Mr Prosser's anti-Muslim comments could be dangerous for New Zealand.

George Galloway, who has a long history of supporting of Muslims, said the remarks are disgusting and Mr Prosser is not worthy of being an MP.

"It's not good for New Zealand to be known as a country where parliamentarians go unrepudiated when making these deeply racist comments," he said.

The Human Rights Commission says it has received six formal complaints about Richard Prosser's article and remarks about Muslim men and terrorism.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says the MPs comments are inaccurate, ignorant, and based on bigotry, but are unlikely to meet the criteria for incitement to racial hatred that the commission can act upon.

Mr de Bres says he has advised each complainant to contact the editor of the magazine and New Zealand First about their concerns.

Listen to George Galloway on Morning Report ( 3 min 23 sec )

Listen to Investigate editor Ian Wishart on Morning Report ( 3 min 53 sec )

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