Proposed Muslim prayer on Anzac Day sparks violent threats

A Wellington Returned and Service Association (RSA) veteran says he received violent threats after proposing an Islamic prayer be performed at an Anzac Day service.

Titahi Bay RSA announced on its Facebook page last Wednesday the Anzac Day dawn service would conclude with a prayer from the Koran on the beach.

But many members responded in anger to the post.

"I feel that only the Christian prayer is appropriate for the dawn service," one person commented on a now deleted Facebook post about the service.

Simon Strombom, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan tasked with organising the Anzac Day service, told The AM Show people have been far less polite when they contacted him directly.

"One guy's rung that threatened to kick my head in this morning and all sorts, [said] I should have had my head kicked in at birth and all this.

"They're making it quite personal."

National RSA president BJ Clark said any distractions to the normal service can cause tension and people are welcome to their own opinions about whether it is appropriate.

"If we look at in the past, we haven't had a Muslim prayer and I suppose that's where the issue has arisen, where there has been some discussion points," he told The AM Show.

"Is this about the Anzac service, or are we confusing what the service is about?"

But he will not dictate to local RSAs on what to do with their services.  

"As we are free to do in New Zealand, there should be choice by the local RSAs on whether they include that or not," he said.

Strombom said he was shocked and saddened by the reaction to the prayer, but would not be dissuaded from including it.

It has been moved out of the dawn service though, and will instead be said at the conclusion of the 10am service.

Around 2500 people are expected to attend the later service.