New Zealand MP gets security cover after threats over hate speech debate

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – A New Zealand lawmaker was given a security escort on Tuesday after threats against her by white supremacists opposed to her views on hate speech, a rare precaution in a country where politicians mingle freely with the public.

A debate on hate speech has been raging in New Zealand since the mass shooting in Christchurch on March 15 by a suspected white supremacist that killed 51 people and wounded dozens.

Green party lawmaker Golriz Ghahraman, a human rights lawyer who was born in Iran and came to New Zealand as a child refugee, has seen an escalation of threats against her in recent weeks.

Ghahraman would now be accompanied by a security escort when she leaves parliament, she told reporters on Tuesday, as the police deemed the threats were serious enough to warrant the extra security.

“It’s distressing to have secret white supremacist groups talking about you,” said Ghahraman, who is among a handful of parliamentarians from ethnic minority communities.

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