Fiji Sun - - Front Page - WAISEA NASOKIA CO­RAL COAST Edited by Ranoba Baoa Feed­back: waisean@fi­

Vatukarasa on the Co­ral Coast, has over the years, lived the true spirit of na­tional unity.

Yes­ter­day, it reached an­other mile­stone. The com­mu­nity of iTaukei vil­lagers from a pre­dom­i­nantly Chris­tian back­ground and In­doFi­jian Mus­lim group came to­gether to cel­e­brate the Mus­lim event of Eid-ul-Adha. Two se­nior Gov­ern­ment min­is­ters jointed them. Vil­lage elder Apenisa Lanivia said: “In our multi-eth­nic, mul­tire­li­gious so­ci­ety, we all must do more to share the im­por­tant sym­bols and tra­di­tions of our faith – not to force our be­liefs on oth­ers but rather to build un­der­stand­ing and unity.

“Fiji is mul­ti­cul­tural coun­try and we should com­mend the ef­fort of our Prime Min­is­ter that there is now unity in Fiji. “Un­der the 2013 Con­sti­tu­tion we are all now known as Fi­jians. Peo­ple of dif­fer­ent faiths are im­por­tant in a free so­ci­ety, a free so­ci­ety like we have in Fiji. Peo­ple of faith give voice to moral and ethics. We should com­mend our peo­ple who are mak­ing this pos­si­ble. “Peo­ple may won­der about our re­la­tion­ship with both our Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties here at Vatukarasa and also at Sovi. We from this vil­lage are the landown­ers of both set­tle­ments as we re­gard them as part of our fam­i­lies. Most of them have in­dige­nous Fijian names from the vil­lage. Some have strength­ened this re­la­tion­ship though in­ter-mar­riage with us. Some of you may be ask­ing this ques­tion: How long they have been here?” To re­spond to this, Ms Lavinia said it was the fourth and fifth gen­er­a­tions of both set­tle­ments who had been liv­ing with them for more than 100 years.

“It is our hope that you will en­joy be­ing in a beau­ti­ful vil­lage en­vi­ron­ment and may be later you would make a ref­er­ence to what you had seen and ex­pe­ri­ence to­day shows what we are miss­ing in the world and that is the way the world should be.” Vatukarasa Mus­lim branch pres­i­dent Nel­son Ali said the Mus­lim com­mu­nity had de­vel­oped a strong re­la­tion­ship with the landown­ers for all th­ese years. “This is a pro­gramme to cel­e­brate the peace, har­mony and tol­er­ance and to show this strong in­te­gra­tion be­tween the two so­ci­eties.” He said around 150 Mus­lims and 500 iTaukei lived side by side. Min­is­ter for Health and Med­i­cal Ser­vices Rosy Ak­bar, who joined the cel­e­bra­tions, said: “This is a his­toric oc­ca­sion where we put aside our dif­fer­ent be­liefs, cul­ture and tra­di­tion and come to­gether as one.” She added this was an oc­ca­sion to bury in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive dif­fer­ences to pave the way to last­ing peace. She com­mended the or­gan­is­ers, the Vatukarasa Mus­lim Com­mu­nity, Tui Conua Ratu Luke Vei­dovi and the vil­lagers for a great ex­am­ple of unity and tol­er­ance. “It shows the way for­ward in terms of work­ing as one na­tion of one peo­ple for the bet­ter­ment of this na­tion. Like any other re­li­gion, Is­lam preaches the same val­ues which are peace and har­mony,” she said. “The Fijian gen­eros­ity and shar­ing is sim­ply un­matched and that is ex­actly what are we wit­ness­ing to­day. This must not end here. It must con­tinue to sup­port those who ad­vo­cate for unity, peace and har­mony in our beloved coun­try, Fiji.”

Chief guest Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture, Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment and Na­tional Dis­as­ter Inia Seruiratu said: “As we as­pire to build a new Fiji, we are for­tu­nate to have a com­mu­nity as such who not only em­braces tol­er­ance with oth­ers but most im­por­tantly share their re­sources as well for oth­ers to dwell to­gether in unity de­spite our diver­sity.”

He said it was a unique cel­e­bra­tion, based on love and re­spect. He said Vatukarasa had not only talked about peace. “They have been liv­ing it,” he said.

Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Stand­ing from left: Muffti Zainal Abu Dean, Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture Inia Seruiratu, Min­is­ter for Health and Med­i­cal Ser­vices Rosy Ak­bar, Tui Conua Ratu Luke Vei­dovi with 84-year-old Torika Galo (seated), at Vatukarasa yes­ter­day.

Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture Inia Seruiratu (left), and Min­is­ter for Health and Med­i­cal Ser­vices Rosy Ak­bar, with 84-year-old Torika Galo, at Vatukarasa yes­ter­day.

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