Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Prosser builds bridges - but not with politicians

Richard Prosser.  Photo / Mark Mitchell
Richard Prosser. Photo / Mark Mitchell

NZ First MP Richard Prosser has been trying to build bridges with the local Muslim community after apologising for anti-Muslim comments but lashed out at politicians who said the affair marked him as unfit for Parliament.

Mr Prosser's self described "brain explosion" in which he said young Muslims from "Wogistan" should be banned from air travel prompted an open letter from Auckland Muslim Jason Kennedy published in the Herald.

Mr Kennedy invited Mr Prosser to dinner at his home, saying it would "give you a much more enlightened perspective on Muslims and Islam in general".

Mr Kennedy yesterday confirmed Mr Prosser had called him yesterday to say he would like to meet up although he was unable to do that immediately.

"He obviously believed what he said. I don't think he has necessarily had enough time to come to a different conclusion. One of the things that I will strongly encourage him to do is that he should ask for forgiveness, not necessarily in Parliament but at a mosque.

"I think it would be very intelligent of him to do so but I think he should do it knowing why he's doing it as well and that's going to take some discussion."

Mr Prosser said he expected he would go for dinner with Mr Kennedy and his wife Khayreyah Wahaab in Auckland. "The fact is we've made contact and had a yarn and said we'll do something and start some dialogue and see what we can take out of this constructively."

Mr Prosser had also exchanged text messages with Anwar Ghani, President of the Islamic Associations of New Zealand and they were likely to speak soon.

"We're going to have a talk and we'll see what comes out of that."

Dr Ghani also said it would be worthwhile for Mr Prosser to visit a mosque.

"That will be something that I'll do" Mr Prosser told the Herald yesterday.

But he hit out at leaders of other political parties who said he shouldn't be in Parliament.

"Anyone can throw that mud and frankly many of the people throwing it shouldn't be. You look at the likes of Peter Dunne. He's a man who campaigned on the basis of not supporting asset sales and now he's supporting them and he's not only in his own mind fit to be an MP but fit to be a Cabinet minister.

"There's John Banks who is having memory problems about Kim Dotcom and his chequebook and helicopter and he's not only fit to be an MP but a minister. So there are some pretty wide double standards going on here."

Mr Dunne, who voted in favour of the Government's asset sales policy, campaigned on opposing the sale of NZ Post, KiwiBank, Radio New Zealand or any water assets but also said any other asset sales should be done in a way that retained New Zealand control.

Mr Prosser said he did not intend trying to make an apology to Parliament after his attempt on Wednesday was blocked by the Mana Party's Hone Harawira.

- NZ Herald

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