|Accused fronting in court|
The paper, three of its news officials and a letter writer for its itaukei supplement, Nai Lalakai, have been charged under section 65 (2) (a) (i) and section 53 (1) of the Crimes Decree.
It's alleged the group incited antagonism against Muslims in the following article published on 27 April:
“Ko ira na Musulomani era sega ni taukei kei Viti, sai ira nai lawalawa oqo era a curu botea na vanua eso ka dua vei ira ko Bangladesh mai Idia, kara vei vakamatei kina, kucuvi na nodra yalewa, ra vakararawataki na gone me yacova sara nira sa lewa ka sa nodra tu edaidai”
The excerpt has been translated as: “Muslims are not the indigenous of this country. These are people that have invaded other nations, for example, Bangladesh in India, where they killed, raped and abused their women and children. Today they have gone to the extent of having a part in the running of the country”.
The four accused - Josaia Waqabaca, Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, The Fiji Times Editor-in-Chief Fred Wesley and The Fiji Times General Manager and Publisher Hank Arts and the Fiji Times Ltd - appeared in the Suva Magistrates Court but we were all released on $1000 bail.
Frank Bainimarama has, meanwhile, done a u-turn on changing Fiji's flag as a result of the Sevens team winning a Gold medal in the OIympics for the first time.
Bainimarama was the prime mover in the campaign to ditch the flag - despite opposition - because of its reminders of Fiji's political past and mistakes and ties to colonial masters, Britain.
But the former coup leader now espouses the virtues of the flag, saying he has found it 'deeply moving' the way 'Fjians have rallied around the national flag as our Rugby Sevens team brought home Olympic gold.'
"While I remain convinced personally that we need to replace some of the flag's colonial symbols with a genuinely indigenous expression of our present and our future, it has been apparent to the Government since February (last year) that the flag should not be changed for the foreseeable future."
It's quite an about face, even hypocrisy, but it seems a Gold medal is a good enough reason to try a new tack, at least when it comes to the flag.
If only a Gold medal could fix as easily the problems that continue to bubble away in the new Utopia.