Feedback: Peters Wraps Rant in Intellectual Cloak
As a visiting Muslim to New Zealand , I was appalled by the Islamaphobic outburst from the Rt Hon Winston Peters on Thursday before a small gathering of his supporters in Kaitaia.
Especially when he repeated unfounded allegations that Muslim radicals were infiltrating universities and colleges.
I usually ignore such siren calls, but we are living in a dangerous age where hysteria, fear and hate can be whipped up so easily by those who have their own hidden agendas.
Apart from the fact there was absolutely no foundation or corroboration in Mr Peters' allegations about so-called radical Muslims, I was mildly amused by his attempt to wrap his rantings in an intellectual cloak as if to give his words some gravitas and legitimacy.
For instance, when referring to Muslim integration in European countries he said: "And remember these countries are old and mature democracies - they have deep rooted traditions of freedom of speech and tolerance going back to Shakespeare and Voltaire."
Oh dear, Mr Peters. what an own goal.
Voltaire, perhaps the most famous of the French philosophers during the French Enlightenment in the 18th century, was anti-semitic, scathing of the Roman Catholic Church and vehemently opposed to organised religion . with the exception of Islam.
Voltaire was greatly interested in Islam and occasionally compared it favorably to other faiths. A great admirer of the Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) he wrote that Islam achieved its dominance "over more than half of our hemisphere" through "enthusiasm and persuasion."
And as for Shakespeare, I think Mr Peters needs to do some serious homework before he puts his foot in his mouth again. The Great Bard is often widely regarded as an anti-semite because his work reflected the anti-semitism that was part of Elizabethan culture in Britain.
In fact many of the great writers of the West have been accused of anti-Semitism, including Chaucer, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, G.K. Chesterton, T.S. Eliot, Orwell, and Solzhenitsyn.
Mr Peters was trying to say that the Muslim communities in Europe are isolationist. As a European I can tell him that his observations are simply wrong. The great anti-war movement in the UK was made up of a broad coalition including the Muslim Association of Britain.
The newest political party to emerge in the UK is called RESPECT, and in the recent general elections our candidates - including myself - reflected a true picture of mutli cultural Britain. All I see when I look at New Zealand First is a group of middle-class, middle-aged, chauvinistic men.
New Zealand has a great international reputation for environmental and humanitarian issues, its nuclear-free zone and a determination not to be bullied by America. Politicians like Mr Peters do nothing to enhance this great country's standing both home and abroad.