17 May 2016

Fear of Islam drives proposal to change Samoa's constitution

4:06 pm on 17 May 2016
Catholic Cathedral in Apia in Samoa. church, christian

Catholic Cathedral in Apia in Samoa Photo: RNZI/ Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Samoa's council of churches has welcomed the prime minister's call to review the religious freedom provisions of the constitution.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi recently said the country's supreme law may be changed to recognise Christian principles and teachings, not just in the preamble.

However the Secretary General of the Samoa Council of Churches, Reverend Ma'auga Motu, said he would go a step further and ban the religion of Islam.

He said even though most Samoans are Christian, Islam poses a future threat to the country.

"We are not going too far, no," Reverend Motu said. "We are still wanting our own people to be prevented from this kind of influence, even though there are so many people who are good people but still there are some dangerous people among them who might come and threaten our peace."

The constitution protects the right to practice any religion but doesn't rule out the establishment of an official state religion.

But Tuila'epa said Samoa is a Christianity-based country and that goes together with Samoan cultures and traditions.

There is a small muslim population in Samoa that gathers at a mosque and there is the Samoa Muslim League based near Apia.