Calls to ban Islam in Samoa as constitution under review
There are calls in Samoa to ban the practice of Islam, following comments by the Prime Minister that he would look into amending the constitution to further recognise Christianity.
A Christian leader in Samoa has called for the practice of Islam to be banned in the country.
The call comes following comments by the Prime Minister that he will look into amending the constitution to further recognise Christianity.
Alex Perrottet reports.
Samoa's constitution has a very clear freedom of religion clause in Article 11. Anyone can practice any religion they like, as an individual or in association with any group.
But some would like that changed.
The Secretary General of the Samoa Council of Churches, Reverend Ma'auga Motu, says Islam is a threat, and he doesn't mind being compared to Donald Trump.
REVEREND MA'AUGA MOTU: You know the people of this Islamic faith are very wise in manoeuvring things in order to let them come in to any country. So we want to prevent that.
ALEX PERROTTET: So you're taking a very very hardline approach here, it sounds to me a bit like what Donald Trump has been saying in America that he would ban Muslims from entering America. But you are saying that the political powers should also do the same in Samoa?
REV MOTU: Absolutely, yeah, we really want our government to and we are pressing our prime minister for that.
0.03 percent of people in Samoa professed Islam at the 2001 census. Reverend Ma'auga says there are overseas Muslims who are a threat.
REV MOTU: We are not going too far, no. We are still wanting our own people to be prevented from this kind of influence, even though there are so many people who are good people but still there are some dangerous people among them who might come and threaten our peace.
The General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, Reverend Francois Pihaatae says the fear is there for some, but it can be fuelled by media reports of violence on the other side of the world. He says at the most recent assembly, the churches made a resolution to hold dialogue with other faiths.
REV FRANCOIS PIHAATAE: To create first that space where everybody can come in and discuss and dialogue. But they have the right to do the decision but before that we have to first look at what our faith, as Christians, is telling us.
He says there are many Muslims where he lives in Fiji that contribute to the peaceful building up of the country. Our correspondent in Samoa, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, says in Samoa there are often frictions to do with the practice of religion.
AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: Other small groups like bible studies, when they are introduced into the villages, the mainline churches they are very concerned and it creates a lot of disputes between village councils and these small religious groups.
Autagavaia says The Samoan prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi didn't talk about any move to ban Islam, but he has asked the Attorney-General to look into further entrenching Christianity in the constitution. An Ahmadi Muslim Imam and Missionary, Mustenser Qamar, published an article in the Samoa Observer last month saying there are very few Muslims in Samoa and his religion is gravely misunderstood.
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