Sunvoice

Rabuka’s Anti-Muslim Statement Deserves Condemnation

Sitiveni Rabuka’s anti-Muslim rant on Radio New Zealand should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. To link the detention of 45 Fijian troops on peacekeeping duties in the Golan
05 Sep 2014 08:38
Rabuka’s Anti-Muslim Statement  Deserves Condemnation
Fiji Airways Fijian Sevens Head Coach, Gareth Baber urges players (right) during extended squad training at Albert Park on October 23, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Sitiveni Rabuka’s anti-Muslim rant on Radio New Zealand should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

To link the detention of 45 Fijian troops on peacekeeping duties in the Golan Heights to Muslims in Fiji is deplorable. As a former commanding officer in similar Middle East assignments, Mr Rabuka should know the sensitivities that local communities there observe and respect.

Mr Rabuka told the radio station that Fiji’s Muslim community could face a serious backlash if the peacekeepers were harmed by their captors, the al-Qaeda affiliated group, al-Nusra. To make matters worse, he has stood by those comments.

The Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga, has condemned  Mr Rabuka’s statement. He said it could incite violence.

Mr Rabuka’s comments are uncalled for and Brigadier-General Tikoitoga has rightly responded.

Anti-Muslim rhetorics here could complicate the negotiations to free the Fijian soldiers. Syria might be a long way from Fiji but technology brings the two countries close. With the press of a button, the captors can know what’s happening in Fiji through the internet.

We cannot rule out anything. All we can hope for is the goodwill of the captors. As it is the situation is tense and unpredictable. The whole nation is praying for their safe release. The prayer vigil right around the country cuts across the racial and religious divide. Christians, Muslims, Hindus and those of other faiths have joined hands in asking for divine intervention in a show unity and love.

This is one moment where we put aside our religious, racial and political differences to come together in prayer. It proves skeptics wrong and defies those who say that we cannot mix because of our differences.

It can be done. The spirit of the Constitution is played out in full here. The secular state provision gives us the opportunity to pray together in one venue or in our own individual faith. The common theme is that the soldiers return to their camp safely.

There are many variables when dealing with the rebel groups. Their demands can change in exchange for the release of the 45. These are the realities of negotiations and all we can do is hope and pray that the outcome will be the one we all want.

Mr Rabuka’s comments then are insensitive and totally out of line with the general mood of the people. These are tender moments for the families and relatives of the detained soldiers. Mr Rabuka’s comments will only heighten feelings and could pose serious risks for the soldiers.

The other concern is the fear Mr Rabuka’s comments can create in the minds of innocent Fijian Muslims.The perceived threat of violence is also unsettling for non-Muslims.

It is sad that the controversial statement comes at a time when the country is facing two major events, the general election and the detention of the 45.

There is enough goodwill among the different races and religious groups to treat Mr Rabuka’s wild speculation with contempt and prove him wrong.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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