Bottled Venom: The Politics of Hate by Graham Davis

#54 THE POLITICS OF HATE


Not so veiled racism
Most countries have laws that prevent religious and racial vilification. Most responsible media outlets – including those on the internet – excise comments designed to inflame religious and racial hatred. But sadly not the most prominent of the websites set up to oppose the government of Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama.
That site calls itself Coup Four and a Half – otherwise known as 4.5 – and is supposedly run by journalists. Its name denotes the four coups in Fiji’s post independence history -the two Rabuka coups in 1987, the Speight coup in 2000, the Bainimarama coup in 2006 plus what 4.5 regards as the half coup when Bainimarama’s takeover was declared illegal by the courts in 2009 and he abrogated the constitution altogether, sacked the judiciary and continued to govern by decree.
Now, Coup 4.5 is entitled to oppose the dictatorship, though many Fijians prefer it to the nationalist government Bainimarama overthrew. It’s also entitled to campaign for the restoration of democracy, though many Fijians are happy to accept the regime’s promise to hold elections in 2014. But there’s plenty wrong with 4.5 – unforgivably so – when it publishes the most vile attacks on people based on race and religious affiliation.

Grubsheet has taken the site to task before for publishing comments describing Indo-Fijians as “mongoose” or “mynahs” – the clear implication being that Fijians of Indian descent are imported pests. It regularly refers to the prime minister as “the Baini”, a disparaging play on words on the popular Hindi description of a person of low breeding or class. But now comes something far more grave, an all out attack on Fiji’s Muslims on one of the holiest days of the Islamic calendar – the birthday of the prophet Mohammed.
This wasn’t in the comments section of the site but in the main editorial column. And it deserves to be read in full, not only to appreciate the appalling nature of the attack itself but to appreciate why the Bainimarama regime is so determined to stamp out this kind of racial and religious intolerance in Fiji once and for all.
“Fiji is going through a false scenario of reforms and modernization to have a new Fiji. This was reiterated by the PM in his address during the November 2012 budget. Sadly it is bound to end up with civilization with darkness.
The truth is Muslims, through Aiyaz Sayed Kaiyum, is colonizing Fiji. They are deceiving the people of Fiji using nice phrases and words such as modernization, a new Fiji without corruption, transparency, fairness to justify their staying in power. Look at what has been happening:
Muslim riding hard on power (RFMF)
Rule by decree
Increase in the number of key positions in government being given to Muslims or those supporting Khaiyum
Weakening of Fijian institutions and culture and land ownership
Nepotism
Recruiting of non-Fijians, especially kaivalagis, to weaken Fijian’s capabilities
Wake up Fiji. Wake up to the radical changes in our beloved peaceful and friendly country. Regrettably, Banimarama will not do anything: only he knows why it is Yes sir, three bags full Sir!”

Hate figure - Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum (photo: Jet newspaper)
This grubby little offering isn’t just inflammatory but utterly false. Muslims constitute just 7 per cent of the population of Fiji – some 54,000 in a country of  860,000.  They are hardly “colonizing Fiji”, as the anonymous author of this rubbish asserts. There is one Muslim cabinet minister – Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Kaiyum – and one Muslim officer – Brigadier General Mohammed Aziz – in the RFMF, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces. These are hardly “Muslims riding hard to power”. In fact, they’re total exceptions in their own fields in a population utterly dominated by Christians and Hindus. So the notion that they pose any “threat” is risible.
There’s also a puzzling reference to the “recruitment of non-Fijians, especially kaivalagis, to weaken Fijian’s capabilities”. Kaivalagi is the indigenous term for a white man or European. On the latest figures available, a mere 0.4 per cent of  Fiji’s population describes itself as European, under 3000 people in a population of 860,000. Perhaps the author was referring to the recruitment of American PR people or the odd expatriate lawyer. But this is clearly even more of a furphy than the claim about Muslims.
Simply put, Coup 4.5 – with this base offering – has become the local equivalent of a Nazi hate sheet. It’s designed to provoke and exploit the long-standing and deep-rooted fears of uneducated indigenous Fijians and turn them against Muslims in particular and Indo-Fijians in general. And it does that in the crudest way possible – to spread the lie that indigenous people are being marginalised in the land of their birth and robbed of their jobs and land.

Colonel Mohammed Aziz ( r) (photo: Fiji Times)
There is also the implicit message that Fijians could be forced to abandon Christianity and live under the diktat of an Islamic state. How? Because Coup 4.5 positioned this vile piece of misinformation right next to the text of a routine message from the Prime Minister to Fiji’s Muslims to mark Mohammed’s birthday. The contents of this were totally inoffensive – indeed, sentiments universally shared of unity and tolerance. Yet it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Bainimarama’s adoption of the Muslim customary greeting ” Peace be upon him” when referring to the Prophet, was being exploited to carry a deeper message of a leader dancing to the tune of both the Muslim religion and his Muslim right hand man, Khaiyum. Or as the “article” put it – “Yes, sir. Three bags full, sir!”  Presumably no “no sir’ – as the nursery rhyme usually goes – because, in 4.5′s view, Bainimarama never says no to his attorney-general.
Who are these people? Well, they’re always anonymous but are said to be a group of Fiji journalists running their site out of Auckland, with contributions from members of the deposed SDL government, ex civil servants and a hard core of anti-regime “human rights” advocates. One thing is certain. As well as permitting overtly racist content on the site, they routinely censor any comments they don’t agree with – unbridled hypocrisy from a site that continually castigates the regime for its own censorship of the media.
The wonder is that some of 4.5′s content is written by respected journalists and academics who are Indo-Fijians to boot. There are contributions from the Oxford-based Victor Lal – arguably Fiji’s finest investigative journalist – and from the economist Professor Wadan Narsey, currently working in Japan after falling out with his superiors at the University of the South Pacific. Grubsheet recently asked Professor Narsey how he could possibly have anything to do with a website that carried overtly racist content. His response was that he’d been told by the “journalists” at 4.5 that it was preferable to allow people to “let off steam than have them bottle it up”
How any responsible person can accept such a notion is frankly beyond Grubsheet’s ken. This is bottled venom that would bring prosecution in New Zealand – the country from which Coup 4.5 supposedly operates – and, for that matter, in all of the bolt holes of the disaffected Fijian diaspora. Imagine the furor if any Muslim in Fiji had launched a similar attack on local Christians, and on Christmas Day? It’s inexcusable and unacceptable. No buts.

Comments

Walker Texas Ranger said…
We have no evidence as yet about the religion practised by those who attacked a Christian Family on Christmas Day 2011. We do know what racial group they belong to. Is it helpful to know? Does anyone who attacks a peaceful household in the dark and threatens them with rape and murder 'belong' to any respectable religion? One would think not. They are criminals and their act is one of alleged terrorism. They must be arrested and brought to trial. When they are, we shall be there.
Anonymous said…
It is a crying shame that educated Indo-Fijians should use Coup 4.5 to express their "bottled-up" views. No self-respecting Indo-Fijian would ever stoop so low and for Professor Narsey to use this medium clearly shows that his "bottled-up" venom expressed through a website that calls Indo-Fijians as "mongoose" and "mynahs" is not only reprehensible but also clearly shows the man has no moral or ethical standards. Professor Narsey, would appropriately be classed as "Narad" in the Indo-Fijian community - simply a betrayer of the community. It is a demeaning term but some like Professor Narsey deserve such label. There is no shortage of "Narads" in the Indo-Fijian community. It is a community that has been shafted by its own leaders (Chaudhary!) and creeps like Professor Narsey. Thank you Graham and Croz we cannot thank you enough
The Outcome that matters said…
The photograph which has been shown at the top of this article shows a Muslim Woman wearing the Niqab: now banned in France and some other European Countries. But women in Fiji have worn an invisible 'niqab' since Cession. All women. Before the advent of the Christian Missionaries, they wore not very much at all. Women are penalised for their views especially if they are outspoken on controversial issues. Viz: the late Irene Jay Narayan, Dr Mere Samisoni, Virisila Buadromo, Shamima Ali.

"Now there are things you may not say".

In other words and to be crude: "Shut your trap"! There will be consequences and those consequences will rebound on others close to you.

This stifles public debate of any kind. How many women in Fiji are silenced or clothed in 'niqab' in this way? And how will this all end? It will never end, may we suggest, by decree.

It would be interesting to research how much more restricted are Muslim women in Fiji by the edicts (decrees) of the mosque and their fathers and husbands than women of other faiths and ethnic groups. There is a certain mindset associated with fundamental religion and ethnic heritage which is more than apparent. Not just in Fiji but all over the Islamic World and in the Diaspora of Islam. The most obvious feature is resistance to leadership by women. This is particularly evident within private enterprise and despite the fact that the Prophet Mohammed married an older woman, Khadija, who was herself an entrepreneur and hired him to be her agent. Only later did they marry.

There are notable exceptions: Bangladesh comes to mind and also Sri Lanka (Buddist female President). The biases against women in positions of leadership must be carefully researched and be open to public scrutiny. No assistance has come to Fiji in this field. Despite years of international and regional conferences and expensive consultations: all leading nowhere much. It is the outcome which matters.
Onward Christian soldiers said…
Croz
In using your race card smokescreen you and Graham Davis are escalating the inevitable conflict facing Fiji under this regime. If you think that you and your supporters can endlessley attack the Christian Methodist Church and the culture of Fijians and not get a backhander you are sadly mistaken. Bring it on. The sooner the better.
Kahukiwa said…
Croz,

Whilst Coup 4.5 sometimes deserves the criticism it cops for some of the rubbish it publishes, I'm a bit bemused that you have taken such a righteous tone.

Some of the tactics and practises employed by this regime are equally as vile and despicable as the race card played by Coup 4.5.

And perhaps its time you accepted another reality - Bainimarama would have overthrown the Qarase goverment regardless of its political hue - he was under investigation over the deaths of the mutineers and was possibly going to be charged. This myth that you continue to trot out that somehow Bainimarama acted to save Fiji is getting tired - he did it to save himself. He is no more capable of articlating a vision for Fiji as the morons who roll out the tired race card on Coup 4.5.
idle threats said…
"Onward Christian Soliders", you really are a disgraceful individual to threaten " a backhander" against Walsh and Davis for highlighting the racism and bigotry of the worst of the indigenous extremists.

I haven't seen any attack on the "Christian Methodist Church" or the "culture of Fijians" from these two individuals. So what gives other than irrefutable evidence that you are one of these thugs?

You can stew in your impotence and frustration. But Bainimarama has your measure and will deal with you accordingly . It is you and your kaivata who will bow to the desire of the majority of the nation for a peaceful, multiracial future.

Keep carrying on like this and you will either wind up in perpetual exile or live in fear of the military if you return. Your choice. You've been warned. The days of threatening anyone are over.
Anonymous said…
"Onward Christian Soldiers" is a shameless Christian who does not preach love but hate. Such hollow and Bible thumping Christians abound in Fiji. Fiji is not a Christian country but a country of Christian terrorists who have now been tamed by Bainimarama. Defend the Methodist Church that openly preached racial intolerance, persecution of Indo-Fijians. To allude to Fijian culture is the last resort of a coward. Go to the QE Barracks and show your bravery. Remember how you looted Suva after the first coup,Christian Soldier, you still have the chance to show your bravery! For Christ's sake do not malign his sacred name. You are not a Christian Soldier - you are coward!
Johnny-Come-Lately said…
"Onward Christian Soldier" is a coward and a disgrace to Christianity and his people.

He is typical of the bullies and thugs you find in Fiji who pick on those who are smaller - Christian bullies is what I call them.

They think the rest of Fiji owes them a living while they live it up in bars and clubs, and sleep off Friday and Saturday nights' hangover by missing work on Monday.

If they use their size and strength for productive use on the farm, like the Chinese in Colo-wai-Siva, Fiji will be a better place.

But no - it's easier to steal from farms, intimidate, demand, bully and blame everyone else for everything.

This attitude is self-destructive and soul-destroying and needs to stop if a people is to progress.

Narrow-minded, intellectually challenged bigots like Christian Soldier, who perpetuate such thinking, are very destructive and dangerous for their society.

They are pathetic role models for the young, and should not be allowed to dominate the more educated and reasonable voices in their society.

Give these unproductive, lazy, big-for-nothing thugs control of Fiji and the country will go from being a banana republic to a fully-fledged failed African state run Rambos who will prey on their own kind because everyone else would have left godforsaken Fiji by than.

This is not just a figament of the imagination - Liberia and Monrovia are living examples; closer to home, consider where Solomon Islands has been, and where PNG is headed.

Consider what makes Fiji strong, the envy of the Pacific, and the world.

Appreciate the strength in diversity instead of trying to destroy it, because all of Fiji will down with it.

Do not just think of the fun you will have today beatuing up people, burning and looting, as some on couop 4.5 are espousing.

Think of what will happen the next day, week, year. Stop living for today only.
Anonymous said…
'Onward Christian Soldier' is a desperate person - when nothing works religion may. In Africa, they have trigger-happy The' Lord's Army' that has murdered, maimed and raped thousands of innocent people. If this is the intention of 'Onward Christian Soldier' he will have no difficulty in enlisting the support of Rev Manasa Lasaro and others from the Methodist Church who advocated violence and persecution of the pagans in Fiji. 'Onward Christian Soldier' is a Sunday Christian, like the majority in Fiji who raise their hands and cry 'Praise the Lord' and 'Halleluia' on Sundays but emerge from the churches demonized with anger, malice and hatred. These are the Christians who will never see the narrow gate, leave alone walking through it! The so-called pagans in Fiji have shown more love and tolerance in Fiji than the Christians who unashamedly used the Bible to preach hatred and violence against them. 'Onward Christian Soldier' Jesus Christ laid his life for the very people you have chosen to persecute and violate. You do not carry the spirit of Christ but you are truly the devil's advocate and unfortunately, Fiji has too many of your kind!
Mahatma said…
@kahikuwa
But didn't your mother tell you that two wrongs don't make a right? It is illogical to say that coup four point five is bad but the government is worse. Hitler was bad but Stalin was worse? Therefore we should not criticize Hitler?
These hate blogs spew out hatred and revenge. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
Kahukiwa said…
@mahatma

I think I said as bad as each other.....
Where were you in World War Two? said…
Why disabuse ourselves of the notion that 'backhanders and butaraki' are always just around the corner? That is precisely why our rights and freedom of expression - so hard won in arenas of World War in the 20th century - will not be set aside lightly or willingly.

Where were you in World War Two? Yes, it rhymes!
Anonymous said…
Where were you in 1987 and in 2000? Rhymes doesn't it!

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