Samoa too open-minded to ban Islam

Aarif Rasheed, a Muslim New Zealander of Indo-Fijian ethnicity, says the Samoan government is too open-minded to ban Islam.

He says the Samoan government was represented at the recent G20 interfaith summit in Fiji.

Rasheed said he was going to help organise a dialogue with churches in Samoa and hoped to bring them together to educate them about his faith.

“People want to see real people coming together at the community level.”

“Religion as a whole is facing a lot of criticism for being too controlling,” Rasheed said.

“And we need to respond by actually bringing real people together on real projects at a very very localised level where everyone can be involved.”

Rasheed said the activity may include similar work he has done in the past such as ecological projects, or helping with nursing.

He worked with both Muslims and Christians in Samoa in the aftermath of the 2009 tsunami.

Muslims and Christians can live together peacefully

Rasheed says that 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 ensure that they don’t get caught up in some of the more conservative and bordering on the irresponsible side of religious ignorance and bigotry.”

Who is Aarif Rasheed?

Aaarif Rasheed is a lawyer and mediator and lives in Auckland

In March his Diversity Centre was opened in the Grand Hall of the New Zealand Parliament by former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Aarif Rasheed’s father was the the interfaith pioneer Abdul Rasheed who migrated to New Zealand from Fiji in 1967.

Abdul Rasheed had a degree in Christian theology. 

He told the Herald in 1996 that he wanted to study Christianity so he could explain the similarities between the two religions.

He helped to found New Zealand’s first mosque in Ponsonby in 1979 and spent years travelling around the Pacific Islands promoting understanding between Islam and Christianity.

He died in 2006.


Additional reading

News category: Asia Pacific.

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