19 May 2016

Call to ban Islam in Samoa put down to ignorance

5:13 am on 19 May 2016

An academic in New Zealand says calls in Samoa to ban Islam stem from a lack of personal experience and ignorance fuelled by media stereotypes.

On Tuesday, the General Secretary of the Samoa Council of Churches, Reverend Ma'auga Motu, called for Muslims to be banned from Samoa, in the wake of suggestions the country's constitution could be amended to further recognise Christianity.

Muslims accounted for 0.03 percent of the population at the 2001 census.

Dr John Shaver from the University of Otago said that in places where minority groups were that small, it was easy for ignorance to spread.

"The problem is a lack of information and when your personal experiences don't often lead you to interactions with peaceful Muslims then you rely on the media. And we know that positive examplars of minority groups in the media are capable of reducing prejudice."

Catholic Cathedral in Apia in Samoa. church, christian

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