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New Zealand MP’s Anti-Muslim rant goes unpunished

New Zealand MP’s Anti-Muslim rant goes unpunished

By Julie Webb-Pullman
16 February 2013

New Zealand (NZ) Member of Parliament (MP) Richard Prosser remains in his position despite publishing racist and highly offensive anti-Muslim and anti-monotheistic statements in a national publication, Investigate Magazine. His diatribe followed the confiscation of his pocket knife by airport security as he was about to board a flight in Christchurch.

In an article titled Enemies at the Gates in the February/March 2013 issue Prosser wrote off the type of multi-cultural tolerance that is the hallmark of civilised democracies as “…pandering to an upstart minority,” while speciously claiming that it is “an undeniable statistical fact” that the greatest threat to western/modern aviation security is young Muslim males.

"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.

Prosser provided no evidence for his blatantly racist and offensive claims – because there is none.

Are young Muslim males the ‘greatest threat to modern aviation security’?

No.

In fact, of the 21 people identified as responsible for the 13 hijacks in the last ten years [1] three were Christian, one was identified as the son of a Jewish writer, and 17 were not identified as belonging to any particular religion.

Of these 17, one could reasonably remove the drunk Russian (Muslims do not drink alcohol), the two Cubans (based on personal communication from a Cuban journalist that neither of the offenders were Muslim), and in accordance with Prosser’s dictum of ‘male, aged between say about 19 and about 35’ we should also remove the woman, and the four confirmed to be over the age of 35 (there may be more).

So of the 21 people responsible for all of the hijacks in the past ten years this leaves us with a maximum of nine young men, or 42.8%, who could possibly – but have not been confirmed to - be Muslim, and 12 who are either not Muslim, not male, or older than 35.

Removing those hijackers not acting in the ‘west’ and who have not already been excluded loses another five, leaving us with only four POSSIBLY Muslim hijackers that have posed a threat to aviation security in the west in the last ten years.

Hardly undeniable statistical evidence of anything except that Richard Prosser can’t count.

Further, Prosser’s comments are not just ill-founded – they are also illegal. Several national and international laws, such as the NZ Human Rights Act, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), guarantee both freedom of religion and of movement, as well as protection from discrimination on these grounds - as well as those of age and gender.

Prosser insulted all monotheistic religions, not just Muslims

The national and international laws mentioned above are predicated on respect for the rights of others. One antonym of ‘respect’ is ‘ridicule.’ We do not have to look very far to find incontrovertible evidence of Mr Prosser’s breaches in this regard – and not just in relation to Muslims, but to all monotheistic religions.

...ridiculous concept involving the promise of an afterlife...and the blessings of my imaginary friend in the sky,” he scoffs.

It is one thing to express an opinion, it is quite another to do it in a deliberately derisory and derogatory manner.

An even more abusive and insulting example is his reference to "...a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan, threatening our way of life and security of travel in the name of their stone-age religion...”

If Islam is a ‘stone-age religion’ what does that make its monotheistic predecessors, Christianity and Judaism?

“If the belief systems of ancient history are so important to you, and the advances of the decadent west so abhorrent, go ride a camel instead,” he says – but only to Muslims.

Christians and Jews, particularly fundamentalist Christians and Zionists, whose belief systems not only preceded, but also originated in the same geographical area as Islam, are spared this offensive advice – selective discrimination, perhaps?

Women added to the mix, all Muslims now ‘the enemy’

Mr Prosser concludes by saying, “To me this says that the enemy is not merely at the departure gates; but he - and she - is already within...the citadel has already been breached, and that the terrorists have won.”

So not satisfied with speciously branding Muslim males between 19 and 35 years of age as the greatest threat to western/aviation security, and insulting the three oldest monotheistic religions in existence, Prosser then states that all Muslims, including women, are ‘the enemy’ and implies they are all terrorists, or supporters thereof.

Ignoring the crude and simplistic ‘them-and-us’ mindset that divides the world into competing/warring camps, rather than a planet containing states and peoples capable of co—existing harmoniously, we are left with the depiction of all Muslims as ‘the enemy.’

New Zealand’s obligations under national and International Law

Prosser’s depiction of Muslims as ‘the enemy’ would thus seem an unequivocal case of incitement to discrimination and hostility, in contravention of Article 20(2) of the ICCPR.

Together with his call for the ban of young Muslim men from airlines, it is also a clear breach of Article 21(1)(c) of the NZ Human Rights Act, which specifically prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religious belief.

So far, only one New Zealand lawmaker has stood up to Richard Prosser, with Mana Party leader Hone Harawira blocking an attempt by Prosser to make a statement to the House under Parliamentary privilege.

In a press statement, Harawira said: "Today I opposed a request from Richard Prosser to make a personal statement to the House. I did so because if he has an apology to make for his offensive remarks to the Muslim community, then he can make his way to the nearest mosque and ask forgiveness there. I do not accept that he should be able to make such remarks and then simply wash away his venom via an unchallenged explanation in the house."

While other party leaders and MPs have criticised his comments, and the Green Party presented a motion to Parliament affirming “that all New Zealanders, regardless of their religious faith or ethnicity, should be treated equally before the law and that the rights and dignity of all peoples, in particular of Muslims, should be upheld,” none has called outright for Prosser’s resignation – unlike several editorials and non-parliamentarians, including Islamic leaders, around the country.

No slip of the tongue

These were not accidental off-the-cuff comments, but were clearly premeditated, crafted and drafted with malice aforethought by Mr Prosser.

Similarly, their publication by Investigate Magazine evidences a deliberate intent to abuse and insult a specific group of persons on the basis of their religious beliefs, both inside and outside of New Zealand, and to incite discrimination and hostility against them.

An apology is simply not sufficient.

The full force of New Zealand law should be brought to bear on both Mr Richard Prosser and on Investigate Magazine for their deliberate breaches of national and International Law.

NZ Parliament must act

Winstone Peters, the leader of the New Zealand First party which launched Prosser into parliament through its ‘list’ (he only polled 538 votes in the elections, coming last in his electorate) has shown he is incapable of taking the requisite moral and legal stand by expelling Prosser from his party, saying only that the NZ First caucus was "as disappointed as I" but that Mr Prosser will not face disciplinary action.

In the absence of a principled stand by the leader of NZ First, the New Zealand parliament must demonstrate by concrete steps that it does indeed want to be recognised as the representative body of a nation of law-abiding citizens with a healthy respect for human rights, and act immediately to remove Mr Prosser from its ranks.

Mr Prosser has clearly broken his parliamentary oath to “be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors, according to the law. So help me God.”

New Zealand’s moral authority and international reputation is at stake here.

If ethical and moral imperatives do not strike a chord with New Zealand parliamentarians, perhaps economic imperatives might. Are they willing to jeopardise the billions of dollars of export earnings the country receives annually from Middle Eastern countries?

Mr Prosser may also be well-advised to invest in some floaties and start swimming classes – he will have great difficulty getting from Waimakariri in the South Island to Parliament in the North Island without the ‘Muslim’ oil that powers New Zealand’s airlines...

One can only hope that the security staff at Christchurch airport return the pocket knife to Mr Prosser post haste – so that he can fall on it.

*************

[1] My research has yielded the following information on hijackings around the world 2002 - 2012

2006 – Turkish Airlines Flight 1476 from Tirana to Istanbul, hijacked by Hakan Ekinci, 28, a Turkish Christian.

2007 – Aeroflot Airbus flight from Moscow to Geneva attempted hijack by Yevgeny Dagayev, 32, drunk Russian, religion unspecified

2007 – Air West Flight 612 from Khartoum to Al-Fashir hijacked by Mohamed Abdu Altif, 24, Sudanese, religion unspecified

2007 – Air Mauritanie flight from Nouakchott to Las Palmas hijacked by Mohamed Abderraman, 32, religion unspecified, nationality disputed (Mauritanian or Morroccan)

2007 – Cubana – two of three army deserters (Alain Forbus Lameru, Leandro Cerezo Sirut (both 19) and Yoan Torres Martinez (21)) attempted hijack of a Boeing 737 leased from Spain’s Hola Airlines, religion unspecified

2007 – Atlasjet Flight 1011 from Ercan (Cyprus) to Istanbul, hijacked by 2 ‘male students claiming to be members of Al Qaeda,’ names, ages, religions and nationalities unspecified

2008 – Eagle Airways Flight 2279 from Blenheim to Christchurch, hijacked by Asha Ali Abdile, 33-year-old New Zealand woman, originally a refugee from Somalia, religion unspecified

2008 – Sun Air Boeing Flight from Nyala to Khartoum, 2 male self-identified members of the Sudanese Liberation Army, a non-Islamic rebel group, ages, religions unspecified

2009 - CanJet Flight 918 from Montego Bay Jamaica to Canada, hijacked by Stephen Fray, 20-year-old mentally-ill Jamaican, Christian

2009 - AeroMéxico Flight 576 from Cancún to Mexico City, hijacked by José Marc Flores Pereira, 44-year-old Bolivian, Christian

2011 - Turkish Airlines Flight 1754 from Oslo to Istanbul, attempted hijack by Cuma Yasar, 40-year-old mentally-ill Turkish citizen living in Norway, religion unspecified

2011- Alitalia Flight 329 from Paris to Rome, attempted hijack by Velery Tolmachev, 48-year-old Kazakh mentally-ill diplomat living in Paris, son of Jewish writer Gennady Tolmachev

2012 - Tianjin Airlines Flight GS7554 from Hotan to Ürümqi (China), attempted hijack by six unidentified Uyghur men aged from 20-36, religion unspecified. World Uyghur Congress (partly-funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy) denies it was an attempted hijack, saying it was a brawl over a seat.

*************

Julie Webb-Pullman is a New Zealand journalist now based in Gaza city. Alray news agency is a new media agency set up by the Palestinian Government in Gaza with both Arabic and English news. It is not a party-specific agency, but set up to promote the Palestinian cause.

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