14 Sep 2006

Calls in Fiji to make penalty for temple attacks equivalent to murder

6:42 am on 14 September 2006

There are calls in Fiji to make the penalty for temple attacks and sacrilege harsher by making them equivalent to murder.

The call follows the latest of many such attacks during which a Hindu temple at Narare near Suva was broken into, statues and religious books were destroyed and inside set on fire, leaving only charred remains.

The priest at the temple, Pundit Ram Gareeb, is questioning why the vandals would do all this when all they took was 11 US dollars in cash.

Punmdit Gareeb has told Fiji TV that such attacks are happening everywhere all the time and he called on the courts to make the penalty equivalent to that for murder.

He says community members will pick up the pieces and restore the temple because an important religious festival is to be celebrated soon.

The American State Department's annual report on Fiji has expressed serious concern about breaches of human rights through numerous attacks on Hindu temples.