NEWS

Our Children Proudly Embrace Fijian Identity: Raj

If we remain quiet today, because the child that is being targeted and incriminated is not one of us, then someone else will also turn a blind eye when hatred, intolerance and bigotry knocks on your door staking its claim on your child.
27 Feb 2021 13:46
Our Children Proudly Embrace Fijian Identity: Raj
Fiji Human Rights and Ant-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj,

Every Fijian child, irrespective of race, religion, gender or any other marker of difference has the constitutional right to education and to freedom of religion, conscience and belief, says Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director, Ahswin Raj.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Raj said this right could not be taken away so easily by forces of hatred, bigotry and intolerance.

He was responding to comments made by failed politician Ben Padarath, who had pointed out on social media  about a male student prefect at a Muslim school who, in a photo that was published in the Fiji Sun, was spotted growing a beard.

Mr Raj said those who were intent on sowing seeds of division based on racial and religious differences think that they could exploit these human differences by insidiously pitting our children against each other.

“But I take solace in the fact that our classrooms, coffee shops and malls are full of bright and bubbly children of various faiths, ethnicity, colour, gender and sexual orientation that transcend the petty human differences that the likes of Ben Padarath would like to exploit to keep them apart,” Mr Raj said in the statement.

“Mr Padarath needs to wake up and have a hard look at our social spaces in which children from diverse background despite their social location are flourishing in a multicultural country where our children proudly embrace their Fijian identity.

“There is no turning that tide back and I hope that those politicians that Mr Padarath has so approvingly tagged in that shameful social media post can remind him of this changing reality even if they do not have the temerity to openly speak out against him because it may not be politically convenient.”

He said our children and education remain the last bastions of hope in combating intolerance and fostering a culture of respect for diversity and difference.

“A few years ago, the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission had to intervene in a matter where a student was asked to look for an alternative school which “accommodates students of her kind” because headscarfs, according to the principal, were not in adherence with the school dress code,” he said.

“The commission intervened in this matter knowing fully well that today the target is headscarves, tomorrow it will be the crucifixion symbol, then the turbans or any other religious emblem.

“If we remain quiet today, because the child that is being targeted and incriminated is not one of us, then someone else will also turn a blind eye when hatred, intolerance and bigotry knocks on your door staking its claim on your child.”

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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