After tickets went on sale for New Zealanders to see Lauren Southern & Stefan Molyneux last Friday as part of their trans-Tasman tour, the resulting campaign by Islamic and left-wing groups in the nation has led to the planned venue in Auckland cancelling the event.
The event was scheduled to be held on Friday 3 August at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland’s North Shore. Tickets were being sold by Auckland Live on behalf of the event organizer Axiomatic Events.
What followed was a week of hysteria in the New Zealand media about Southern & Molyneux’s views and the country’s left mobilised in opposition. The New Zealand Federation of Islam Associations launched a change.org petition to have the country’s Minister of Immigration ban Lauren Southern from entering New Zealand. Southern had previously been banned from entering the United Kingdom for planning to distribute “Allah is gay” flyers.
The petition says Southern has “blasphemous views on Islam” which “according to section 61 of the NZ Humans Rights Act, this is hate speech” and her visit to New Zealand can “easily stir religious and cultural sensitivities”. President of the Islam Federation Hazim Arafeh told Radio New Zealand that “[She] 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” and that “I don’t think insulting Muslims comes under free speech, that’s an abuse of freedom of speech.
Another group who had been campaigning to have Southern barred from New Zealand was the Auckland Peace Action (APA) who told Newshub that “We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community in Aotearoa who are opposing these fascists. If they come here, we will confront them on the streets. If they come, we will blockade entry to their speaking venue”.
Meanwhile, New Zealanders who have been as starved as Australians from hearing refreshing alternative voices had been eagerly buying up tickets. But those who tried today all of a sudden found they could not complete their purchases.
It was soon confirmed on the Auckland Live website that the event would no longer be held at the Bruce Mason Centre due to “security concerns around the health and safety of the presenters, staff and patrons attending the 3 August event have led to its cancellation at the venue”. Its director Robbie Macrae stated this decision was part of its “regular and ongoing assessments around hiring its venues to promoters of shows and events, to ensure everyone has the best and safest experience possible”.
Not long after Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff also a former New Zealand Labour Party leader in a tweet and Facebook post claimed responsibility in having the event cancelled stating that Auckland City venues would not be used for expressing “repugnant”.
.@AklCouncil venues shouldn’t be used to stir up ethnic or religious tensions. Views that divide rather than unite are repugnant and I have made my views on this very clear. Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux will not be speaking at any Council venues.
— Phil Goff (@phil_goff) July 6, 2018
The organisers despite the setback are still determined to bring Southern & Molyneux to New Zealand and are exploring other venue options. New Zealanders who are angered at the campaign to have them banned from the nation have launched a counter change.org petition called Defend Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux’s right to freedom of speech in New Zealand.
We hope that New Zealand can prove itself to be a nation that believes in free speech and their scheduled Auckland visit proceeds.