28 Feb 2003

Fiji government denies deportation of a Muslim cleric was a security matter

9:34 am on 28 February 2003

The Fiji government has denied deporting Muslim cleric and Sudanese national, Abdul Majid.

The attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, has blamed the media for sensationalising the issue saying the government is being blamed for taking a decision against a Muslim.

Mr Bale has told parliament that deportation requires a court order but Mr Majid had left the country because he was in Fiji without any valid immigration status.

He said it was not a religious issue about Muslims.

The director of immigration, Joseph Browne, was earlier quoted as saying the ministry of home affairs had given security as the reason for Mr Majid's deportation.

Mr Majid has told local media from Sudan that he was woken up at 1 am on Wednesday last week by an immigration official accompanied by four or five police officers and was given just 30 minutes to leave the country.

He says he was questioned for two hours in Sydney and detained for four days in Singapore before he reached Sudan six days after leaving Nadi.

In August last year, Mr Majid and a Saudi friend were questioned by Vanuatu intellegence officers on arrival in Port Vila about whether they had taken photographs of the US embassy in Samoa.