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Parties coy on coalition with NZ First after MP's 'Wogistan' rant

Published: 5:14AM Wednesday February 13, 2013 Source: ONE News

No party in Parliament is ruling out a future coalition deal with a New Zealand First Party that includes MP Richard Prosser, despite his anti-Muslim rant in a magazine.

Prosser has now apologised for his column in Investigate magazine and admits that calling for young Muslim men to be banned from Western airlines was offensive.

But he says he will not resign.

And no party is willing to give New Zealand First an ultimatum to dump Prosser if it wants a future coalition deal.

Prime Minister John Key, asked if he will rule Prosser out of being a Cabinet minister, said: "Well we haven't even ruled New Zealand First in or out yet, so look, come and ask me in 2014."

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said it is a challenge for New Zealand First to decide whether it supports Prosser's views and if so will it will keep him, "and there will be costs of that to them".

Asked if the cost is that the Greens will not work with New Zealand First, Turei said: "The cost of that will be to them."

Labour leader David Shearer said somebody holding the views expressed by Prosser could never be a minister in a Government that he would lead.

Asked if he couldn't rule out working with New Zealand First if Prosser is in that party, Shearer said: "Well we don't know if there's going to be a New Zealand First in a coalition."

'Troglodytes from Wogistan'

Prosser wrote in his column that "young men who are Muslim, look like Muslims, or come from a Muslim country should be banned from flying on all Western airlines".

The list MP wrote that New Zealanders' rights were being "denigrated by 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, its barbaric attitudes towards women, democracy, and individual choice".

But he has apparently now dropped the anti-Muslim opinions he laid out in the column.

Prosser said today that some of the language he used was not appropriate for an MP.

He described his style as a ''shock jock with a pen", and said that the article "didn't go anywhere near far enough to give any kind of balance".
 
"There's a lot of language that I've used in that column and in the past that I shouldn't be using now," he said.

"I shouldn't be thinking that way. I should be going forward looking for positive solutions, so those are things I'm not going to be doing anymore."

The MP unleashed on Muslims in his column when his pocketknife was confiscated at Christchurch Airport. proclaiming "Abdul" should not be allowed to fly and instead should "go ride a camel".

He was asked today if he still believes that young male muslims should be banned from flying.

"Having had time to think about it, what I should have said was, if I was going to go down that line, I should have called for an investigation into the merits of targeted profiling, and not jumped up and said we should have a blanket ban," he said.

Friendless

Friendless in the House today, Prosser says he will give up the column but not his position as an MP.

"I realise that's caused offence to those people unjustifiably and unnecessary and I'm apologising unreservedly to them," he said.

The story has already grabbed headlines around the world, and in a rare move MPs across the House agreed to make a public statement distancing themselves from his comments.

"The rights and dignity of all people, in particular of Muslims, should be upheld," said Greens co-leader Russel Norman.

ONE News political reporter Michael Parkin says that even with his foot out of his mouth Richard Prosser now will not be climbing beyond the backbenches.

NZ First leader Winston Peters is refusing to stand Prosser down.

Peters says his MP "wrongfully impugned millions of law-abiding, peaceful Muslims".

"After a rational discussion he has changed his mind," Peters said. ". . .We can't take it any further than that. He's had a chance to reflect . . . he admits it was unbalanced."

Prosser polled 538 votes at the last election.

'Serious damage'

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres told TV ONE's Breakfast that comments not only do damage within New Zealand, but also to New Zealand's reputation overseas.

Collins said the controversy would cause "international embarrassment".

De Bres said that when he read the column he thought it was "so ignorant, it's so inaccurate, and it is so bigoted".

He said he was surprised that anyone would even publish it, and that it was written by a MP.

He said it goes so far beyond the standards expected of journalists and MPs.

De Bres said a retraction, correction and an apology are needed.

Ian Wishart, editor of Investigate Magazine, told Radio New Zealand he had only "skimmed" the column before it was published, but says it raised important issues about the Muslim extremists entering New Zealand.

He said his remark that young Muslims men should not be welcome on Western airlines was "ridiculous".

But he criticised media for not publishing the whole column saying that "in the context of the column it's a tongue-in-check remark".

Wishart said he would not have phrased it that way, and does not endorse what he is saying.

Islamic Associations response

Jamal Green of the Federation of Islamic Associations slammed Prosser's anti-Muslim column.

"You can maybe excuse it on a street corner on a drunken night, but not from a Member of Parliament," Green said.

"This was not just an outburst, Winston Peters spoke about this kind of thing, but really he had time to think about this, he wrote this, this was not something spoken."

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