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New Row Over Hate Talk

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New Row Over Hate Talk National Federation Party provisional Candidate, Feroz Gulam Mohammed. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

A controversial National Federation Party provisional candidate was back in the spotlight last night.

Ashwin Raj, the director of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission (FHRADC), claimed Feroz Gulam Mohammed yesterday threatened him over the phone.

Mr Mohammed hit controversy after he said hate speech based on a person’s ethnicity and religion should be allowed under free speech.

Mr Raj responded and strongly criticised Mr Mohammed in a Fiji Sun front page article yesterday.

In a new development as the row escalated, Mr Raj claimed yesterday Mr Mohammed called his office and threatened to make a social media post if he did not return his call.

Mr Raj said: “There was a threat made.

“He also told one of my staff members not to act too smart and he knows I’m not busy or doing any work.”

But Mr Mohammed denied the claim.

“That’s what Ashwin is good at. He commented on your paper without even consulting me (on yesterday’s front page story),” Mr Mohammed said.

“When I called that lady (who picked up the phone) and told her that I need to speak to Ashwin she said he was busy.

“I said I need an answer before 5PM today (yesterday) about a time I can meet him and the lady started to allege it was a threat.

“I told her that it is not a threat, it is a deadline.” 

Mr Raj, who is also the chairman of the Fiji Media Industry Development Authority, claimed the comments were criminal intimidation and confirmed he was considering legal action.

“(Mr Mohammed said) if I don’t give him a call by 5PM, he is going to post something (on social media),” Mr Raj said.

“This is criminal intimidation and my question is: Are these the kind of people that will stand for elections and lead should they win?”

Mr Mohammed responded on his Facebook page that he was appalled by the statements Mr Raj made in the newspaper.

Mr Raj said: “At the HRADC, it is our job to make sure that we advocate the principles of non-discrimination. And while we also protect freedom of expression, must also ensure people are equally protected from the advocacy of hatred.”

NFP leader Biman Prasad said he would not comment unless he saw the video. He said it was important to remember that the candidates were only provisional for now.    

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