A press release from the New Zealand First party. I am not in New Zealand and know little about this party, but Winston Peters, the party leader and a member of the New Zealand Parliament, raises a good point in this press release: will New Zealand live under one system of laws, or declare Muslims exempt from them? From the New Zealand First site, with thanks to Paul Nilsson:
Rt Hon Winston Peters has suggested that a veiled Muslim woman who told a judge she would rather kill herself than reveal her face while giving evidence in an upcoming fraud case might be better off living in a Muslim country.
A hearing was held in Auckland yesterday to determine whether two Muslim women have to remove their burqas in the upcoming case. They claim that to do so would be embarrassing and against their religion.
Mr Peters said it was a simple case about whether New Zealanders lived under one set of rules for all or whether these rules could be bent or broken to fit in with newcomers.
"We have a system of open justice and that means the demeanor of witnesses in court cases can be seen by the judge, jury and counsel. Only in truly exceptional and serious cases can a witness be seated behind a screen or barrier.
"Most New Zealanders would be disturbed that a person prefers suicide to complying with reasonable court rules was living in their midst.
"People who come here from countries with extreme religious views and customs should seriously think about resettling where practices of covering up faces are the norm."
Mr Peters said he was also concerned that Muslim women were permitted to wear veils when photographs were taken for drivers' licences.
"This is ridiculous. How do police identify people wearing what amounts to a mask?
"If people come to New Zealand they should fit in with our systems. If they prefer to kill themselves, we say that they would be better off living somewhere else.
"You only have to look at Europe to see the chaos caused by importing people with extreme religious views," Mr Peters concluded.
That's for sure.