17 Aug 2016

Fiji Times charged over 'inciteful' article against Muslims

5:18 pm on 17 August 2016

Fiji's Public Prosecutor has charged the Fiji Times with inciting communal antagonism over an article against Muslims.

The charges were made under the Crimes Decree, passed by the military government in 2009.

The Fiji Times headquarters on Victoria Parade, Suva

The Fiji Times headquarters on Victoria Parade, Suva Photo: RNZI / Sally Round

The article was published in April, in the newspaper's i-Taukei language Nai Lalakai paper, and accused Muslims of invading foreign lands, and killing, raping and abusing women and children.

The article also warned that some muslims had found their way into Fiji's parliament.

It was written by Josaia Waqabaca, who was jailed after the 2000 coup, for his role in a plot to kidnap the then military commander, and now prime minister, Frank Bainimarama.

The Decree's section 65 prohibits any communication that is likely to incite dislike, hatred or antagonism of any community.

The April 27 article includes this paragraph:

"Muslims are not the indigenous of this country. These are people that have invaded other nations, for example, Bangladesh in India, where they killed, raped and abused their women and children. Today they have gone to the extent of having a part in the running of the country".

The charges have been laid against Mr Waqabaca, as well as the Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, the Fiji Times editor Fred Wesley, and its publisher Hank Arts.

In 2013, the newspaper was fined $US 170,000 for contempt of court, for publishing an article that called into question the independence of Fiji's post-coup judiciary.

Those charged are appearing today at the Supreme Court in Suva.

The maximum penalty for the charge is 10 years imprisonment.

Fred Wesley, Editor of the Fiji Times

Fred Wesley, Editor of the Fiji Times Photo: RNZI / Sally Round

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