2 Sep 2002

Fiji senator says anti-Hindu and Moslem statements not racist

5:08 pm on 2 September 2002

A Fiji government senator, Mitieli Bulanauca, says he stands by his comments that the Diwali and Prophet Mohammed's public holidays for Hindus and Moslems should be abolished because they force indigenous Fijians to bow to foreign gods.

Only days after his speech, a Hindu temple was set on fire in Nausori at the weekend.

Senator Bulanauca says his comments were sincere and he was not being racist.

He says he doensn't hate Hindus and Muslims but Christianity should be made the official religion of Fiji with minorities free to practise their beliefs.

But a body set up by the Fiji Council of Churches says Senator Bulanauca's racial remarks provide an opportunity to educate him and those who think like him to a more Christian outlook on non-Christian religions.

The director of the Ecumenical Centre for Research and Advocacy, Aisake Casimira, says it is unfortunate that extreme Fijian nationalists try to use Christianity to assert indigenous domination.

Mr Casimira says calls for Fiji to be declared a Christian state as well as insults against non-Christian religion and places of worship are example of this.

He says Christians should not be driven by narrow nationalist sentiments and should remember that Christ himself never insulted the religions of other people.