The Muslim Plot to Take Over Fiji

Anti-Khaiyum cartoon, clever, false and malicious
Throughout human history racial and religious differences have been used to rally support. For at least 50 years Fijian leaders have claimed Indians have been planning to take away Fijian land. It suited some Fijian parties to make this claim.  It won votes even if it had no substance in fact. It also took attention away from what the politicians, and those they most closely represented, were doing to help themselves.  The stories of a Muslim plot to take over Fiji, and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum's part in the plot,  is therefore no surprise. It is merely a variant on the earlier use of  racism: playing on  the fear that those who are different are threats to society and the legitimate claims of other citizens.

 This letter from a reader:

Croz,  This is what some are concerned about in Fiji and I know as a Christian where they are coming from, but is it just the SDL and opponents hyping people up? A friend who lives in Fiji forwarded this to me – What do you think? Talk here too from some Hindus we know (who supported the coup) think the AG is on a mission to “Muslimize” Fiji. We say he is not but they are sceptical.

The letter that prompted the letter from a reader:

Here in Fiji we have to be careful too as we have a Muslim Acting Prime Minister/A-G who is on a mission - who married the daughter of a very prominent devote Christian man and the daughter is not converting to Islam.   We have a prominent wealthy Muslim business man who is personally funding the opening of 5 Muslim schools this next year, and has plans to open more.  We have Muslim foreign Judges being employed in great numbers.   We have a devout Muslim in the top military ranks and police ranks ‘calling the shots.’

My  reply:

This is “communists under the bed” stuff and really so ridiculous it’s hard to know how to answer.  There is ONE Muslim in the senior ranks of the army, and he’s been there for years.  All other officers are Christian.  Should we see this as a Christian takeover?

Do you really think Aiyaz is on a mission to muslimize Fiji?   If he can’t even convert Eli his wife to Islam, he’s not doing a particularly good job.

I don’t know why a wealthy Muslim is funding five schools, if indeed he is, but the Indian and Muslim populations have been FALLING  for years due to emigration and Muslim schools such as Muslim College in Suva have been enrolling non-Muslims and non-Indians to fill the empty desks. Muslims would not be emigrating if they wished to take over Fiji.

What Muslim foreign judges in “great numbers”?  The Chief Justice is English and Paul Madigan and Chris Pryde are Kiwis.  Sri Lankan magistrates have been recruited  on short term contracts to fill gaps? Those who are Tamil are likely to be Hindus and the others Buddhist or Christian.  Rebuffed by its traditional friends,  Fiji has developed its “North” policy which has seen it engaged in new relationships with Muslim states such as Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, but also with Singapore, Brazil and China that are not Muslim.

Anti-Aiyaz accusations started three or four years ago and were spread by the anti-government blogs. He was allegedly providing sanctuary and channelling money to the Taliban, and siphoning money into his own pockets from the the public purse.   He is a convenient target for the ethnic Fijian nationalists, the same people who had supported the Speight Coup because a Hindu, Chaudhry, had deprived them of their perks and abuses of power.  And then, and for many years earlier, it was the Indians who were taking over Fiji!

Such people continue to make unsubstantiated personal attacks on everyone who they see as supporting the Bainimarama government.  See what they write about Graham Davis and me, and were are not a Muslim.

A favourite story is that Bainimarama is Aiyaz’s puppet (see cartoon). Some in the military, such as Ratu Mara and Pita Driti, held this view because they had been sidelined in the Military Council.  They tried to persuade Bainimarama to dismiss him.  Bainimarama did not, because he is too valuable a worker. Who  else could he find who would be as efficient and work as hard?

Aiyaz has power.  His portfolios involve him in  many activities and keep him in the public eye.   He has trodden on may toes and he sometimes does not have the most winsome manner.  It is inevitable that such a person will have enemies, whatever his religion or ethnicity but, in his case, enemies of the Bainimarama government have played to ethnic and religious intolerances, and they seem to have been successful in some quarters.

Do I believe he is muslimising Fiji?   Yes. Just as much as I believe in fairies and Father Christmas.  It is mischievous, divisive nonsense, deliberately aimed at winning support away from the Bainimarama government. The uninformed, the misinformed and the chronically prejudiced will believe it, along with other stories they wish to believe.  It has always been so.


A terrorist is a terrorist said…
What's next croz? Iran does not have nuclear weapons?
Here's a hint lad. Those who take over legitimately elected governments with guns get wasted. No hard feelings but 'it has always been so'.
This is the way it was, is and will move on and get over it.
The only person misinformed and chronically confused is you - and your mate khaiyum. The end game is inevitable.
Gay said…
It's sad to see there are so many sick and warped minds out there, when there is so many other important things to do.
SOE said…
@ Croz

The necessity for conducting oneself with a decent demeanour in a multi-racial and multi-religious society at all times is overwhelming obvious. A less than 'winsome manner' brings disapprobation, dislike verging upon hatred not only upon oneself but also upon one's entire community. This has always been so. Therefore the necessity, the requirement even, to conduct oneself 'vaka-turaga', with humility and with fastidious equality of conduct towards all people at all times. Common courtesy means just that: being the same towards all people regardless of their station.

Sarcasm is oft considered the loweest form of wit. In Fiji, sarcasm is little understood by many. It is in fact not part of our culture and most sarcastic statements are taken by many people literally. This presents serious grounds for misunderstanding and for prolonged and unhelpful miscommunication.

If we truly wish to be understood and to protect the best interests of our own community, then we should carefully consider our demeanour and what we say and do especially in a public place. Grand-standing, believing ourselves to be inevitably and solely right, having little regard for the opinion of others particularly the poor and the disadvantaged will achieve nothing of use. Indeed, we put not only ourselves but also entire communities at risk. Violence in written communication is becoming ever more apparent. It is a reaction to the lack of circumspection shown on the ground. A little Chinese restraint might not go amiss. Considered and carefully choreographed regard to the perfectly reasonable sensibilities of the multitude of good, decent and increasingly anxious people who long for peace and stability in their daily lives. Is this too much to ask for?
Christian country said…
You appear confused again. Why would there be a need for a Christian takeover? Fiji is a Christian nation - and will remain so. Of that there is no doubt.
Anonymous said…
You talk about "Fijian leaders" and `some Fijian parties" pursuing racist fears over fifty years. These sweeping generalisations about the leaders of a particular race look like racism to me.

In 1977 or 1978 Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara introduced and won support for the the amendment of the Agricultural Landlords and Tenants Ordinance to increase the term of agricultural leases from 10 to 30 years. All existing leases were extended by a further twenty years. To pass this legislation he had to win the support of the Great Council of Chiefs (as required by the Constitution.)

How does your claim that Fijian leaders were consistently claiming over 50 years that "'Indians have been planning to take away Fijian land" fit with this fact?

The National Federation Party leaders repaid the courage and vision of Ratu Mara in the 1982 elections by showing the famous Four Corners program on the Mara government all over the country. The inclusion in this program of a throw-away line about Ratu Mara's ancestors being cannibals was one of the low points in our nation's history - and something Jai Ram Reddy regrets to this day.

It seems to me that you are the one whose vision is clouded by stereotypes about race.

The blog picture you've labelled in fact racist targets one individual, not the group to which he belongs. The late Dr Ahmed Ali who belonged to that same group was frequently vilified for his support for the vision and leadership of Ratu Mara.

Race is such a difficult problem in Fiji because there are no easy rights and wrongs. One thing is certain: a mono-ethnic army is not the leadership base for solving these problems. A genuinely multiparty government, something that was always the vision of the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, is the only way to overcome the legacy of past race politics.

Croz Walsh said…
@ Navosavakadua ... If you have followed this blog for a while, you would know my claim that some chiefs and political parties have supported or pursued racist policies, is not racist. If you knew your Fiji history, you'd know my claim is based on fact. And if you knew me, you would realize how wrong you are.

Think Adi Caucau, an SDL Goverment Minister, who in the House called Indians "weeds" to be rooted out and returned to India. Think Sakiusa Butadroka's Fiji National Party that also called for Indians to be expelled. In the 1977 election the FNP won 26% of the Fijian vote! Think of (some) chiefly support for Rabuka and the Great Council of Chief's endorsement of his SVT party. Think of the chiefs behind the 2000 coup and policies of the CAMV party in the 2001 election, and, after its dissolution, of it role within the SDL after the 2006 election. Think what the CAMV thought of the 1997 Constitution and the entrenching power-sharing it imposed. Think of the calls for the Sunday Ban and a Christian state that spurned the rights of non-Christian citizens.

Think of the muddle as Fijians seek to reconcile the unity of vanua,lotu and matanitu in the modern world, and the way some chiefs, some churchmen, and some others have sought to exploit the muddle, making a modern reconciliation that much more difficult.

Finally, think of the Fiji that could have been — and still can be — if the institutional racism of the FNP, SVT, SDL, CAMV (and, yes, occasionally, the NFP and FLP — were demolished.

You are right pointing to racism among non-Fijians, and Ratu Mara's multicultural vision. I have never written anything disrespectful of Ratu Mara. I was a colleague of Ahmed Ali and I know firsthand about the shareful abuse you mention.

But none of this is relevant to my article on the supposed Muslim takeover of Fiji. There are chiefs, Christian church leaders (to their immortal shame), and there were political parties, that "preached" racism and supported the 1987 and 2000 coups. To deny this is to deny the historical record.

But, thank Heaven, there are also chiefs such as Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi (for whom I have immense respect) and church leaders like the Rev. Ilaitia Tuwere who have been outstanding spokesmen for the multiracialism espoused by Ratu Mara, and with which I am in full agreeement.

Don't throw away the possibilities of a multiracial future because of your opposition to the Bainimarama government. Keep it to its promises, and force its opponents to declare their multiracial intentions.
SOE said…
@ Croz and Navosavakadua

Almost everyone who has lived in Fiji over the past forty years (at least since just before and after Independence) has become impatient at some time with one or another ethnic group including one's own. With justification, one might add. On the grounds that 'small minds' have prevailed and there has often been a blanket refusal to see or even to imagine 'A Bigger Picture' in which all might prosper through joint effort.

It is in the gross misuse of Public Money that the picture unravels. No need to go into the politics of racism. It has been the politics of unbridled greed that has more than superceded racist ideology. In the end, it is the economy that trumps every other factor. Does it deliver? Does it 'add value' - for everyone? Are some more obviously profiting when the taxes are paid by all? By what right do some muscle in on these public monies to the detriment of the majority interest?

There is simply no argument to equal this one. So, given this as rational and reasonable while the Euro-Zone confronts its worst crisis since "World War Two" , German Chancellor Angela Merkel insists, an economic crisis to bring down sovereign countries if left unattended? We must now ask ourselves:

Just where is the Technocratic Governance that is so urgently required in Fiji? With the insight, the vision and the economic tools to ensure that we shall all emerge on a safe shore from this cataclysmic upheaval? That vision is required to be articulated now.

Germany is already experiencing neo-Nazi murderous attacks aimed at one specific community. Further responses may well follow suit. Just seventy years on, we seem to be facing signs of racist horrors playing out on the same stage. Add July on Utoeya Island in Norway and a grisly picture emerges. Isolated? Or viral? Are we to be immunised? How?
sara'ssista said…
Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, it's interesting again given the claims of respect for the Former VP , booted out by the regime, should have been part of the solution but clearly he, with many other respected leaders, doesn't want to have any part of this regime or in any so-called independaent judiciary, presumably he was not compliant enough, so much so he was happy to take on a role in Tonga. Clearly he is one of the few that doens't just 'jump into bed' with just anyone in power, unlike scores of miltray appointees who have learnt the hard way and then been shown the door , again.
Those who arrive late...... said…
@ sara'ssista

Jumping into bed when the entire edifice of the Euro-zone economy and then, possibly, that of the Free World is under siege does not appear to be an option. Not a sensible option. How serious do we want to be? Not our usual 'we'll make do' selves, surely? Things are now urgent and we are fiddling with internal bickering while the international financial architecture becomes increasingly under siege. We have spent how many years fooling ourselves that "all would be well". We need to get "real, smart and urgent" about the world situation outside ourselves. Or, yet again, we shall be punished as Mikhail Gorbachev has so insightfully told us:

"The world always punishes those who arrive late".
sara'ssista said…
i can only presume this comment was meant for someone else.

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