Clan Row Over Religious Differences Is Manifestation Of A Culture Of Hate

Christians and their Muslim brothers and sisters of Nabitudua, Nasaibitu, Wainibuka have more to gain by respecting each other’s belief and faith.
18 Mar 2019 16:32
Clan Row Over Religious Differences Is Manifestation Of A Culture Of Hate
Akuila Petero, a Muslim, who is building a home/worship house at Nasaibitu Village in Wainibuka, Tailevu.

My Say: 

Someone should tell the Nabitudua  clan members that it is okay to build a dual purpose home and worship house at Nasaibitu Village in Wainibuka, Tailevu.

This is after one group clashed with Akuila Petero, a Muslim, and his group over the building of the structure at the village.

The group opposing him comprises Christians and they feel uncomfortable worshipping near Mr Petero and group.

This is sad, unfortunate and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

It is a manifestation of the anti-Muslim sentiments that were expressed during the last General Election, particularly via social media and the political rhetoric.

That is why it is so important that we keep religion and race out of our politics.

Religious and racial intolerance is a dangerous evil that we should guard against.

If we do not watch it, it can develop into bigotry, extremism and fanaticism. An attack on any religion is an attack on all of us.

We and the villagers of Nasaibitu must be reminded of what our Constitution stands for.

It recognises and protects our basic human rights – our freedom of religion and individual choice.

Under our secular state, all religions enjoy equal rights to practise their beliefs and faiths as long as they do not impose them on others.

It means there is neither force nor coercion. Everyone can join a religion of their own free will and choice.

Even the rights of atheists (those who do not believe in God) are recognised.

Going by Mr Petero’s account he has been stopped from continuing to build his home/worship house. If that is indeed  his mataqali land and all the local protocols have been met, there is no reason why he should not build the house and use it to worship. That’s his constitutional right – even the right to housing.

Mr Petero claims  the opposing group was opposing his project because “they did not like the fact that I have converted to Islam”.

The problem, he says, has nothing to do with the village. It is one clan, just like one family but divided, he adds.

It got so bad at one point that it ended in a physical altercation. Luckily no one was badly injured.

But the point is that it should not have reached this situation. While Police are keeping an eye on the tension, there should be a clear message that no religion should be discriminated in any way, shape or form.

We need to be very careful about the culture of hate that has been whipped up by some people for political expediency.

Politicians should be put on notice to watch what they say to people about religion and race. What is of grave concern is the way some of them manipulate information and statistics to mislead people. This  directly resulted in the rise of anti-Muslim propaganda in the last election. There were unfounded allegations of a Muslim takeover, particularly on social media.

The fact is we have lived peacefully with the minority Muslim community over the years and they have been prominent in their contribution to nation building.

Our Constitution ensures that this continues. But there are elements in our society who want to disrupt it by using the politics of fear and division to achieve their selfish political ambitions.

The hate culture, if not eliminated, could lead to tension and unimaginable repercussions.

Look at what happened in Christchurch in New Zealand. The killers of 50 people worshipping in two mosques were filled with hate.

It is hoped that what happened in Wainibuka can be amicably settled though sincere dialogue.

Moving forward it can be used as an example of what we can do to be more accommodating for those who may be from another faith and who speak a different language and look differently to us.

One of our strengths as a nation is our ethnic, cultural, religious, social and economic diversity. If we can embrace our differences and work together for the common good, Fiji’s prosperity will continue.

For the Nabitudua clan members it is not too late to change course and welcome Mr Petero and his group. Their combined prayers will help bless their development.


Got A News Tip

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.

For All Fiji Sun Advertising
Fijisun E-edition