In what has been called a “diplomatic incident” an Iranian delegation refused to shake the hand of Labour MP Jo Luxton. The fact that Labour were even surprised by this insult illustrates how completely ignorant and naive they are about Islam. Clearly, Iranian Green MP Golriz Ghahraman hasn’t bothered to educate them about Islam (which isn’t surprising given her complete lack of support for the women in Iran currently getting arrested for removing the hijabs that they are forced to wear).
Labour MPs have taken offence at an Iranian agricultural delegation after they were told the Iranians wouldn’t shake the hand of their female counterpart.
For a party that is big on diversity and respecting another person’s culture, it is hilarious that they have only now discovered just how disrespectful to non-Muslims and women the Muslim culture actually is. When will they learn that you can’t tolerate a culture that is intolerant of your own culture and little things like women’s rights?!
Labour’s Jo Luxton is the deputy chair of the Primary Production select committee, which held a meeting with the Iranians today.
She says as a woman it made her uncomfortable, but she understands that in her role as an MP she’ll deal with situations of cultural difference.
Luxton says they were told at the start of the meeting it wouldn’t be appropriate for her to approach the visitors, to shake their hand.
Why will no one state the obvious? With all other cultures, they only impose their culture on you if you are inside their country. In this case, the Iranians were inside New Zealand. When in Rome you do as the Romans do unless, of course, you are a Muslim. Muslim culture is unique in that they demand that other cultures inside their own countries kowtow to their cultural requirements. They do not show any respect to their host’s culture so they quite happily offended Luxton.
Labour’s Rino Tirikatene called it an affront, while Kieran McAnulty says it’s unacceptable.
He says it meant nearly half the room didn’t shake the hand of the delegation upon entry – and that was purely as an instinctive response to the last-minute instruction that they wouldn’t shake Luxton’s hand.
In Iran men and women generally will not shake hands unless the female outstretches her hand first – and the man is willing to reciprocate the gesture, the Cultural Atlas website says.
Iranian men commonly greet women by placing their hand over their heart and nodding/bowing gently. This greeting may also be used with other people who they perceive are unaccustomed to being touched.
But, this is New Zealand, not Islamic Iran. It is totally unacceptable that they refused to respect our culture and willingly showed our MPs disrespect.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said he had not been told of the incident, but expected the committee would do a report and send it to the Prime Minister.
Asked what the appropriate behaviour was for a delegation, Peters said he would prefer to know exactly what happened.
“Offshore, in certain circumstances when I have met female ministers I’ve known what the protocol is. You can just be as polite as you possibly can but it does not require a handshake. A lot of cultures don’t go in for handshaking, whether it’s male or female.”
Offshore is a completely different situation because, in that case, Winston Peters was the visitor. In this case, the Iranians were the visitors and they disrespected our MPs and our culture. I would like to know who it was that instructed our MPs to kowtow to the culture of the visitors.
“You’ve got to have regard to cultural sensitivities, looking around the world, and be very aware of the environment that they are in. And a Member of Parliament would be expected to know that.”
I do hope that what he meant by that was that the Iranian visitors should have had regard to New Zealand cultural sensitivities.
As an aside, I just had to add this pearl from Shinigami and CBK:
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