2 Sep 2002

Fire at Hindu temple in Fiji follows comments over religious holidays

11:20 am on 2 September 2002

A Hindu temple has been set on fire in Fiji at the weekend only days after a government senator said indigenous Fijians were being forced to bow to foreign Gods because Diwali and the Prophet Mohammed's birthday were public holidays .

A United Nations representative has urged Fiji government Ministers and MPs not to abuse parliamentary privilege by making racial remarks, because this could lead to violence.

The appeal came from the special advisor to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Brian Burdekin, who said parliamentary privilege was put in place to protect MPs and allow them to speak freely on certain issues.

But Mr Burdekin said this does not give them the right to abuse it and make racial comments.

He said the government should lead by example by respecting all citizens.

Mr Burdekin was speaking at a seminar in Suva organised by the Fiji Human Rights Commission