New Zealand is bracing for the arrival of far-right, anti-Islam activist Lauren Southern, with Muslim communities asking that her visa be reconsidered and protests planned for her arrival.
Southern was banned from entering the UK this year after distributing "racist material". She’s due to arrive in New Zealand next month to speak alongside Stefan Molyneux, a far-right vlogger.
Auckland Peace Action and the New Zealand Federation of Islam Associations have called on Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway to deny the pair entry to New Zealand.
New Zealand Immigration has previously denied the visas of visitors if they were considered "a threat or risk to public order". In the past, this has included rappers Tyler the Creator and Odd Future, a case where INZ flagged lyrics of the group's songs which were deemed "homophobic and racist".
New Zealand Federation of Islam Associations president Hazim Arafeh told RNZ that Southern “abuses her right of freedom of speech. She's just going to give a talk in which she's just going to insult all of us”.
Auckland Peace Action member Valerie Morse told the Herald the speakers were coming to New Zealand to "empower local racists and to encourage racist violence".
"They come to recruit people to their fascist ideology.
"It is imperative that this type of racism is given no room to be promoted and encouraged in Aotearoa.
She said if the pair arrived, the group would protest and blockade entry to their speaking venue.
Southern responded that calls for her to be barred were part of "the bug of this almost very totalitarian left-wing ideology which will not end well for you."
Despite the controversy, it’s not yet clear how much of an audience there is in New Zealand for Southern et al’s views.
When Southern was banned from the UK earlier in the year, she had planned to meet with Tommy Robinson, the ex-leader of an English nationalist group, who is currently serving a year-long prison sentence. Shortly before her intended entry, Southern had publicly insulted Muslims by displaying flyers reading "Allah is a Gay God" and "Allah is trans".
In a statement about the activists, a British Home Office spokesperson said: "Border Force has the power to refuse entry to an individual if it is considered that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good."