PM to Muslims: You are safe and loved

Fiji Muslim League Vice President, Taabish Akbar (left) talks to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and New Zealand High Commissioner Jonathan Curr during Open Prayer (Dua) at the Makoi Women’s Vocational centre yesterday. Picture: ATU RASEA

“TO you our Muslim community, I say this, you are safe and you are loved.”

This was the assurance by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to members of the Muslim community in Fiji who were gathered at yesterday’s inter-faith memorial dua (prayer) in Nasinu.

He said the acts shown in the terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday was a goal of a coward.

“We must be aware that acts of extreme violence often begin in the form of hateful words and divisive ways of thinking,” Mr Bainimarama said.

He said acts of terror and terrorism, by their very nature, were meant to instil fear into the hearts of those groups who were targeted and Fijians had been urged to have the courage to call out those who said something racist and hateful in nature.

Mr Bainimarama said people needed to recognise that this type of hatred did exist in the world, and people needed to root it out wherever it lay.

New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji Jonathan Curr said both countries were united in grief.

“The High Commission has been working to facilitate the travel of family members affected by the attack and leaders of the Fiji Muslim community to enable them to attend to funeral arrangements and for them to console members of the Muslim faith community in New Zealand,” Mr Curr said.

He said the New Zealand Police had been working very hard to meet the country’s legislative requirements and obligations to the chief coroner for disaster victims identification and to release the bodies of the deceased to their families as soon as possible so that Muslim burial rights could be accorded consistently with Islamic customs.

Meanwhile, in expressing his condolences to families of those affected, National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said killing Muslim worshippers while they were praying was cowardly and despicable.

“Their loss is immeasurable and irreplaceable. No words can bring solace and comfort to them in their hour of grief,” Prof Prasad said.

“Like New Zealand, Fiji is a multiracial, multireligious and multicultural country.

We believe in co-existing peacefully. That is why New Zealand and Australia are main destinations for Fijians who have or are planning to migrate. So, the last thing one expects is for the peace and tranquility to be shattered in such a gruesome manner,” he said.

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