No charges for man wearing swastika outside mosque

9:04 am on 22 March 2019

Police are defending their decision not to charge a man who, three days after the terror attacks, stood outside a Palmerston North mosque wearing a swastika.

Armed police at the area where graves are being prepared. 20 March 2019

Armed police at the area where graves were being prepared on 20 March. Photo: AFP

Initially, police said they did not have the right to ask him what he was doing and they would be taking no further action.

Subsequently, they said his details had been entered into the police intelligence system.

The man stood outside the Manawatū Islamic Centre, wearing a red singlet with a large black swastika on the front, on Monday, just three days after 50 people were shot dead at two mosques in Christchurch.

"The man was approached by police," a police spokesperson told RNZ.

"He was advised to move on and told that obviously what he was wearing at the time, considering what's happened on Friday, was inappropriate and yeah, basically suggesting that he moved on - he complied and that was it."

Since the shootings, the Islamic Women's Council has repeatedly said that police and security agencies did not take seriously their warnings for several years about growing abuse and their fears of the far right.

Earlier this week, Justice Minister Andrew Little, speaking of tip-offs about far-right extremists, said "each one of those has been taken seriously and followed up on".

Also earlier this week, police told Stuff that no action against the man was taken.

Police told RNZ they had "no right to ask him what he was doing."

"He's allowed to stand there and he's allowed to wear a t-shirt of his choice. It's just a case of us letting him know it's not appropriate."

Police later added that a Whanganui man had, in fact, been questioned.

"His details were obtained and information entered into the police intelligence system," the email said. "This will enable follow-up if required."

On social media, people expressed surprise.

"I drove passed him yesterday, I was disgusted, and sickened, the hate must stop," one said.

"He was there to intimidate them, surely he could have been charged with something," said another.

One Muslim man RNZ spoke to, who won't be named, said this showed the difference between how security forces treated actual far-right threats, versus perceived threats from his community.

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