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Fiji Time: 6:51 PM on Tuesday 2 September

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Queries on need for prayers

Sherita Sharma
Saturday, December 15, 2012

IN a question and answer session on constitutional conversation on the secular state, moderator Shazia Usman asked whether normal displays of prayers in the civil service would continue.

The discussion hosted by the Emerging Leaders Forum Alumni and the University of the South Pacific's School of Government, Development and International Affairs featured panellists dwelling on this issue.

"While Fiji is not a Christian state or a secular state, what happens is that every time you have a function or event, we normally start and end with a prayer," Ms Usman said.

"If we become a secular state, would that still happen or not?"

Panellist and ELFA spokesperson Roshika Deo said it was not appropriate for any particular religion to be imposed.

"I think whether we become a secular state or not, we should not have that type of practice.

"There's a lot of us who do not observe any particular religion or Christianity, so when it happens it is exclusionary," she said.

"I think a practical way this can be addressed is we all just take a moment of silence, so whoever wants to pray can pray. Just a moment of silence for everyone to observe his or her beliefs."

Panellist Nacanieli Speight said he had gone to a Hindustani school and the school observed prayers in the morning and afternoon.

"I would also say it for the sake of saying it but within me, I am praying to my God," he said.

"Choice and respect are two important things, so it is a two-way thing, you have to respect each other's religions."


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