Anti-Muslim petition on Parliamentary website slammed as inciting 'hatred'

  • 05/03/2024

There are concerns about a disturbing petition on the Parliamentary website which calls for Muslims to be removed from New Zealand.  

The petition was signed by less than 150 people but Kiwi Muslims are asking why it was allowed to be online.

Khadija Leadership Network leader Tayyaba Khan told AM action needs to be taken.  

"It's been up there since December 4 of last year," she said of the petition.  

"I think it's fair to say that, overall, people are very, very scared - we're not living in an environment where you can feel safe."  

Despite the petition still being live earlier on Tuesday, it had been removed by the time of writing.  

David Wilson, Clerk of the House, told Newshub on Wednesday the petition has been withdrawn at the petitioner's request.

But Khan said the petition had created fear among the Muslim community, particularly during a volatile geopolitical environment.  

"You've got Palestine, you've got Afghanistan, you've got Iraq, you've got what's happening in China - there is lots of interconnection in terms of what's happening for Muslims globally.  

"Then you have a petition like this in a faraway place like New Zealand which, for a very long time we thought was a... haven and nothing like the Christchurch terror attacks would happen here - and they did. So, you can imagine, there is fear there."  

People were "genuinely scared" by the petition, Khan said.  

"There is a culture here in New Zealand about, 'Oh, let's not give this too much air - I mean if it's just sitting there, nobody knows about then it'll be fine.' But look, when the Christchurch terror attacks happened, nobody knew about it and it wasn't fine.  

"Can we take these things lightly? I don't think so.  

"There is a genuine concern for people's safety - particularly in this country - when petitions like that go up.  

"This petition clearly incites hatred."   

The concern comes just more than a week ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Christchurch terror attacks, during which a white supremacist shot 51 Muslims dead at two of the city's mosques.  

Wilson said the Office of the Clerk works with petitioners to ensure their petitions comply with Standing Orders.

"Our role is to facilitate access to Parliament, not to pass judgment on the content of a petition," Wilson said.

"For this reason, if a petition complies with Standing Orders or can be brought to comply with Standing Orders, that is the approach we will take."

Wilson said the key requirements of a petition are that it's in English or te reo Māori, asks the House of Representatives to take action, uses respectful and moderate language, is serious in intent and does not include statements that cannot be authenticated, such as defamatory information or unfounded allegations.

For the petition to be presented to the House, the petitioner will need to find an MP willing to do so.

Once the petition closes, the petitioner will have six months to present it to Parliament but if they can't the petition is removed from the website as it would've expired.