NEWS

Stand Up Against Extremism: PM To Fijian Muslims In Canada

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says it is our moral responsibility irrespective of whichever faith we belong to stand up against extremism and fundamentalism. Speaking to the British Columbia Muslim Association
11 Aug 2015 11:32
Stand Up Against Extremism: PM To Fijian Muslims In Canada
Chairman and chief executive officer of The Mark Anthony Group of Companies Anthony von Mandl greets the PM in Canada. Photo: DEPTFO News

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says it is our moral responsibility irrespective of whichever faith we belong to stand up against extremism and fundamentalism.

Speaking to the British Columbia Muslim Association in Canada last Saturday, he said “we must be vigilant.”

“We know that Islam is under stress today, torn by competing visions of the nature of Islam, of its teaching, and of how Muslims are encouraged to act on their faith,” he said.

“You are showing that Islam and democracy are not only compatible, but that they can thrive together. You have shown—and we are showing every day in Fiji—that Muslims living side-by-side with people of other faiths can produce great things.

“You have shown that Muslims of goodwill live their faith in a positive way every day, and that the world is better for it.

“Love, affection and understanding is what we all must profess and practise.

“Indeed I am told that Prophet Mohammed not only taught and practised this but also said we must live our lives in and with moderation.”

Muslims are able to put faith into practice in their everyday lives,  he said.

He said to be a Muslim required commitment and a way of life that fortified the soul and encouraged a positive relationship with one’s fellow human beings.

“Islam requires its believers to put their faith into action and practice,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the Muslim community in Fiji had also played a pivotal role together with other Fijians in our country’s achievements.

He spoke about Fiji having a public holiday to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday.

“Very few countries do this, and we do so proudly. It underlines the unique nature of Fiji in our own region – a multi-faith nation with a new Constitution that guarantees religious freedom and establishes a secular state, in which all religions are equal.”

Mr Bainimarama said it was also a gesture of respect that each Fijian paid to their fellow citizens of other faiths, because they were one people and one nation, and they knew that they had a shared destiny, no matter what beliefs they held.

Religion, he said, could actually be a unifying force, a bridge between them all no matter what they believed.

“That is because a sense of spirituality – a belief in something greater than ourselves – is common to the overwhelming majority of Fijians, no matter what their religious background.”

He said many people were alarmed by the provision in the new Constitution that made Fiji a secular state. “They thought that made Fiji non-religious—or even hostile to religion. Their fear was unjustified.

“Our Constitution simply respects all religions. Where all faiths flourish in harmony, morality and goodness prevail. That is because faith ennobles. And where morality and goodness prevail, democracy and good governance will grow.

He said people of faith had an important role to play in the ordering and conduct of their society and government, as individuals and congregations.

“They give voice to principle and ensure that ethics and morality are a part of our political dialogue. This is essential for any society, but especially for a democratic one,” he added.

According to Mr Bainimarama, Government must be pragmatic, but it must also uphold principle, stand for fairness, and stay true to the values of its people.

Government, he stressed, must therefore not give preference to any faith in the functioning of a secular state.

He said the British Columbia Muslim Association was the largest Muslim organisation in Canada and operated schools and Islamic centres all over the province.

“You do charitable works to help the needy and less fortunate, Muslim and non-Muslim, here in British Columbia and abroad. You help make this wonderful province an even better place.”

Feedback:  maikab@fijisun.com.fj

 



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