19 May 2016

Diversity leader warns of religious bigotry in Samoa

11:29 am on 19 May 2016

A call to ban Islam in Samoa has been called bigoted by the founder of a religious diversity centre in New Zealand.

Catholic Cathedral in Apia in Samoa. church, christian

Catholic Cathedral in Apia in Samoa Photo: RNZI/ Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

The Samoa Council of Churches made the call this week, saying Islam was a threat.

New Zealand-born Fijian Aarif Rasheed, who is the son of the inter-faith pioneer Abdul Rasheed, said he worked with both Muslims and Christians in Samoa in the aftermath of the 2009 tsunami.

His Religious Diversity Centre was recently opened at the New Zealand Parliament by former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Mr Rasheed said there are many examples where Muslims and Christians have peacefully co-existed, and Samoa should be no exception.

"It's more about making sure that church leaders who have an enormous amount of control and who have a huge burden of trust upon them to make sure that they don't get caught up in some of the I guess more conservative and bordering on the irresponsible side of religious ignorance and bigotry."