Shaista ShameemI had the misfortune to listen to a religious broadcast by a Shaykh Anwar Sahib AlMadani which was apparently played by FBCL on Easter morning. People can listen to the mullah on u-tube.

His sermon, (more aptly described as a ‘diatribe’), would be objectionable enough in its contents alone- because why anyone would want to bother linking only Easter with paganism, as this mullah did, when it is common knowledge that every monotheistic religion, including his own, has its roots in paganism, is beyond me. I was shocked by such a conservative, and rabid, expression of Islam coming from a cult-like section of the religion which some people in Fiji are clearly into.

In addition, why would anyone actually pay for such a nonsense expression of a religion? And why would FBCL even broadcast it? These are questions the Fiji government just has to take up with FBCL.

However, what is really appalling is that FBCL (a public broadcast entity funded by the public purse) chose not only to broadcast a religious rant when the Prime Minister has already declared Fiji to be a secular state, but also to do so on Easter Sunday. No wonder it is identified as a deliberately provocative act on the part of FBCL which is rather more closely aligned with the Fijian state than it should be as a media outlet. Even more seriously, this broadcast was made in violation of section 17 (3) (d) of the Government’s draft Constitution 2013. The Fiji Human Rights Commission should take this matter up as its ‘own motion’ investigation.

Frankly, there should be no religious broadcasts whatsoever on public radio. Religion is a private matter between a person and his or her God. No one should be confronted with any form of proselytising from anyone. We had enough of that before 2006. Public radio, which everyone pays for and listens to for news and entertainment, is certainly not a proper forum for religious postering and preening.

If the Government says Fiji is a secular state, as PM Bainimarama has been promoting recently, it should start educating its own public radio the FBCL, which it funds far too handsomely from the public pocket in my view, that it cannot bring its leadership into disrepute by these sorts of broadcasts. There are occasions when such mistakes cannot be cured just by an apology.

Dr Shaista Shameem

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