6 Mar 2003

Fiji report says American Samoa's Fiji Muslim ban aimed at garnering Washington's support

5:42 pm on 6 March 2003

A report from Fiji says American Samoa's recent ban on the entry of Fiji Muslims was aimed at gaining political mileage with Washington.

Radio Fiji quotes its sources as saying American Samoa was only trying to get the attention of the US State Department by putting in place measures to counter terrorism.

The radio says American Samoa wanted to get more money from Washington by naming a list of terrorist countries among which Fiji was included because of its large Muslim population.

But intervention by Fiji's Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, the US Ambassador in Suva, David Lyon, saw the ban lifted.

The sources say a report that a Muslim cleric of Sudanese nationality recently deported from Fiji, Abdul Majid, had taken pictures of the US Embassy in Samoa was not true.

Mr Majid was taken from his Suva home by an immigration official and several policemen in a raid just after mid-night two weeks ago and given 30 minutes to leave the country.

He was interrogated by security officials in Sydney and detained in Singapore for four days on his way to Sudan.