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Holocaust Centre condemns Tamihere's use of Nazi salute

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand’s leading organisation for Holocaust education and remembrance continues to condemn the actions of Auckland Mayoral candidate John Tamihere for his use of a Nazi salute during the Mayoral candidate debate held at Chapel Bar in Ponsonby, Auckland, on Tuesday night.

CEO Chris Harris says "To see the development of this discussion over the last day gives us great cause for concern. Words matter, the words used by John Tamihere matter. As New Zealanders it is so important to remember that Nazi Germany didn’t start with actions, it started with words.

"As New Zealanders we have to, each and every individual one of us, be prepared to stand up to words like those spoken by John Tamihere. We must say that we unequivocally reject them, that this is not, and never will be, acceptable in New Zealand.

Chris Harris says members of the wider Jewish community have since contacted him to express their fears about the comments made by Tamihere.

"We have members of our community telling us that the New Zealand we have today is starting to feel eerily similar to how it felt to be in Europe in the 1930s. This has been an increasing pattern since the Christchurch terrorist attacks on 15 March this year. We cannot allow that to continue."

Chris Harris also expressed his concern over the casual nature with which Tamihere incited the words of the Nazi salute.

"Mr Tamihere uses Nazi language - the language of race hatred - in a throwaway manner. It is deeply irresponsible and incites hate in one of the world’s most ethnically diverse cities. It is utterly unacceptable for a public figure to evoke Hitler and the Nazis as Mr Tamihere is doing."

John Tamihere has since argued that his words were taken out of context and were part of a spirited mayoral debate. He has questioned who determines whether you can think, speak and engage in something and who, fundamentally, decides whether something is hate speech.

In response Chris Harris says "There is a clear difference between free speech and hate speech. Hate speech, must never, ever have a place in New Zealand. It is hard to think of a clearer example of the dictionary definition of hate speech than the words used by John Tamihere."

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