New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has said one of his MPs has not incited hatred by saying Muslims should not be allowed on planes.
In an article for Investigate magazine, MP Richard Prosser wrote that young men who were Muslim, 'look like a Muslim' or came from a Muslim country should not be permitted to fly on 'western' airlines.
According to stuff.co.nz, Peters said that Prosser had made a mistake, adding that he knew about the article three weeks ago, and told Prosser it was not acceptable to present only one side of the argument.
Peters said that he had told Prosser he cannot have a view that does not have the balance in the other side of the argument.
Prosser wrote the column as a journalist, not as a NZ First MP, and the views expressed were not those of the party, Peters said.
He said a press statement was imminent from Prosser, but the MP had said he stood by his comments.
According to the report, Prosser told Newstalk ZB that Israel's El Al airline banned Muslims and was one of the world's safest carriers.
Ethnic Affairs Minister Judith Collins warned Prosser's comments could cause 'international embarrassment'.
She called on Peters' to stop hiding his MP and said NZ First should familiarize itself with human rights legislation.
According to the report, Dr Anwar Ghani, president of the Federation of Islamist Associations of New Zealand, said the comments were 'racist and totally unacceptable'.
Ghani said the comments had the potential to harm economic relations with New Zealand if unnecessary weight was given to them, the report said.
He said Islamic countries made up a significant portion of New Zealand's trading partners.
Prime Minister John Key said it was 'an example of the depth of thinking in the NZ First caucus', adding that the remarks were 'stupid and premeditated', the report added. (ANI)