Media Release: Race relations & human rights commissioners should discipline John Key

“Prime Minister John Key’s questioning of SIS boss Rebecca Kitteridge at yesterday’s Intelligence Committee hearing about so-called ‘jihadi brides’ was racist fearmongering of the worst sort. His comment was also sexist and derogatory to women. Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy and Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford should publicly denounce the Prime Minister’s attempts to stir up racial hatred and entrench sexist stereotypes of Muslim women,” said Valerie Morse from the Stop the Spies coalition.

“The Prime Minister is intentionally breeding hatred and fear in New Zealand. He is using this fear to justify ever-greater expansions of power to the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). His racist demagoguery is a tried and true strategy for securing public consent for ever-more invasive and repressive surveillance.

“Key is very clever about his racist and sexist remarks, but let’s make no mistake that is exactly what they are. He is painting a picture of Muslim women as an oppressed, subservient people who need the West to come and save them. Prior to the US invasion in 2003, Iraq was one of the most advanced countries in the Middle East with extremely high levels of education and participation of women across society. That country has been destroyed, with the help of troops from New Zealand, and the enslavement of women there now must be understood as a direct consequence of the US-led war. Much of the same could be said of Syria where the US has been fighting a proxy war for the past 5 years.

“The government’s so-called ‘intelligence review’ is due in February, and Prime Minister Key has already signaled that changes expanding the powers of both agencies are on the cards. The Stop the Spies Coalition calls instead for the closure of the GCSB and the SIS. Throughout the West, there is growing Islamophobia fed by this racist rhetoric. The Prime Minister is feeding this and playing a very dangerous game. People in New Zealand have very good reasons to be distrustful of the spy agencies, and we need to see this government propaganda for what it is.”