Greens slam PM for 'lying' about jihadi brides

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei on The Nation.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei on The Nation.

The Green Party is slamming the Government, accusing them of stirring up fear against Muslims and misleading New Zealanders about the threat of Kiwi women leaving to become jihadi brides in Iraq and Syria.

Information obtained by the Greens proves the Prime Minister and the Minister for Security and Intelligence, Chris Finalyson, were both informed on May 25, 2015 that no women had left from New Zealand to the Middle East.

That's six months before the Prime Ministers jihadi brides announcement on December 8, 2015 when he claimed New Zealand women were leaving to marry Islamic State (IS) fighters.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei told The Nation programme John Key has been lying by omission and had multiple opportunities to clarify no Kiwi women were leaving from New Zealand.

Ms Turei claims only one woman with a Kiwi passport was known to have left for the Middle East from Australia, and her reasons for doing so were unknown. She says John Key has no evidence the woman has gone there to become a jihadi bride.

"He is the Prime Minister, he has a responsibility to make sure we have accurate and transparent information and he deliberately kept information from New Zealanders in order to drive up fear," says Ms Turei.

"He has a responsibility to protect the whole of the New Zealand community, including the Muslim community," which is especially vulnerable she says.

Anjum Rahman from the Islamic Women's Council says the Prime Ministers statements were damaging to Muslims in New Zealand.

Ms Rahman says the comments placed a negative spotlight on the community and threw suspicion on Muslim women. She says the backlash on talkback radio and social media caused concerns for the safety of Muslim children in schools and women wearing hijabs in public.

"We put effort especially into our young people to build up this Kiwi Muslim identity," says Ms Rahman. She added the organisation recently held a national youth camp for Muslim New Zealanders but had to hire security guards because of safety concerns.

Ms Rahman added the Prime Minister has so far refused to engage with the President of the New Zealand Islamic Federation who was elected last year, but that the community is willing to work with the Government to ensure the security of all New Zealanders.

Prime Minister John Key denies he misled the public, he told The Nation last week that there was nothing in his past statements on the matter to correct. He claims the point is not where the women leave from its whether they are from New Zealand.