New Zealand Muslim Cleric Hate
Muslim outrage at Peters' claims
FRIDAY , 29 JULY 2005
By MARTIN KAY
Muslim leaders have hit out at NZ First leader Winston Peters for claiming New Zealand has a "militant underbelly" of Islamic extremists with the potential for London-style suicide bombings.
In a speech to Far North Grey Power, Mr Peters raised the spectre of Islamic terrorism and revealed he had written to Muslim leaders asking them to report "radicals, troublemakers and potential dangers" to police.
But the president of the Federation of Islamic Associations, Javed Khan, said Mr Peters had no evidence to back up his suggestion the community was harbouring extremists.
"It is very offensive. I think the Muslim community will be outraged by what he has said. This is the usual Winston Peters brand of politicking. Previously, he has used the immigration card. This time he's using Muslims as his election card."
Labour MP Ashraf Choudhary, New Zealand's first Muslim MP, also accused Mr Peters of a "political sideshow".
Mr Peters is a fierce critic of immigration policies, and the issue was a cornerstone of his campaign at the last election.
Yesterday's speech indicates it will be a key NZ First focus this year, but Mr Peters said "only an idiot" would say it risked alienating the Muslim community.
He predicted a backlash from "lily-livered liberals", but he was raising valid concerns based on experiences in Britain and other countries subjected to Islamic extremism from immigrants.
He said Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui, who is fighting deportation, had belonged to a party which promoted "radical Islam" and hid its militant tendencies with a moderate face, and the same was true of the Muslim community here.
"In New Zealand, the Muslim community have been quick to show us their more moderate face, but as some media reports have shown, there is a militant underbelly here as well. The most disturbing aspect of this is the fact these messages were met with welcoming ears - that the message of terrorism, violence and intolerance was well received in some quarters. Such pockets of discontent are what led to the London and other bombings - and it now seems they are here."
The reports to which Mr Peters was referring included a story in Monday's Dominion Post which said banned Muslim terrorist groups had sent members to preach at Auckland University.
The claim was made by Shahin Soltanian, a past president of the Auckland University Islamic Society. He claimed Al Haramain, Hizb Ut-Tahrir and Wahhabi, whose members promoted violence and suicide bombings, had held lectures and prayer meetings at the campus.
The claims were immediately rejected by current society president Ryan Mahmoud.
Mr Khan said Mr Peters had no evidence to support his claims and nor did Mr Soltanian. He said he had advised his associations "a long, long time ago" to pass on details of members whose actions or beliefs caused concerns.
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Yes, Prime Minister Winston Peters is absolutely correct about the Muslim community and terrorism!
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