Education Ministry files complaint about social media post

Minister for Education Rosy Akbar. Picture: FT FILE

Fiji’s Ministry of Education has filed a report with the Fiji Police Force and the Cyber Crime Unit for an investigation into a social media post on Facebook by Suva businessman Ben Padarath.

In his social media post on February 21, 2021, Mr Padarath had questioned why the head boy of a high school was allowed to grow a beard while boys in all other schools throughout Fiji were made to be clean shaven daily.

He then questioned Minister for Education Rosy Akbar as to why the separate set of rules.

In a statement, Ms Akbar said the student in question deserved an unconditional apology for having his religious preferences dragged into the national spotlight “by an individual with zero knowledge of ministry policy and no regard for the values of tolerance and respect”.

“There is a vicious strain of religious prejudice in this country. We must address it and defeat it wherever it rears its ugly head,” Ms Akbar said.

“And I want this young man, and every student in Fiji, to know that the Ministry of Education will always defend you and your constitutional rights against anyone seeking to use ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, or any of the differences that exist among Fijians as tools for division,” she added.

In the statement, the ministry condemned the outburst saying the claims in the social media post were insensitive, incorrect, and an affront to the right of freedom of religion enshrined in the Fijian Constitution.

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