FIJI MUSLIMS FEAR RACIAL PROFILING

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By Avikash Kumar

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Jan. 4) - The Fiji Muslim League is seeking clarification from financial institutions following claims that money sent by Muslims overseas are being held up.

General Secretary of the League, Nisar Ahmed Ali, made the comment yesterday in response to a FijiSUN article which highlighted that Shafiq Mohammed’s money transfer to his daughter in Australia was delayed by Western Union because since he was a Muslim, they needed further clarification from the United States.

Overseas countries have put in place a watch list with names of monitored people who may be responsible for terrorist activities.

Mr Ali said FML would check the legal position on any such imposition or restriction in light of the constitutional guarantee of equal treatment for all citizens of Fiji.

He said he was also concerned with the quote of Western Union Branch Manager saying the holdup was company policy because of strict security requirements.

"FML is concerned that should this be true, for the first time ever, we in Fiji are moving into the dangerous zone of profiling of a segment of community, on the grounds of religious belief."

 The Fiji Human Rights Commission yesterday also expressed concerns that Muslim citizens might be facing discrimination on the basis of their religion, contrary to the express provision in the Constitution that no one in Fiji should be discriminated against on the grounds of his or her religious belief.

FHRC Director Doctor Shaista Shameem said the law in Fiji was quite clear on unfair discrimination.

"Section 38 (2)(b) of the Constitution states that no one should be discriminated against on the basis of their opinion, or belief. This law applies to everyone in Fiji and companies operating in Fiji."

Dr Shameem said it also applied to foreign governments with diplomatic relations with Fiji.

She said just because "Islamaphobia" or other religious phobias were prevalent in other countries of the world, it did not mean that it was acceptable in Fiji.

She said if any citizen faced any such sought of discrimination, they should complain to the FHRC so they could take it up with the appropriate authorities.

January 5, 2004

FijiSUN: http://www.sun.com.fj/

 

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