Samoan church leader calls for ban on Muslims

Pope Francis greets Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi during a private audience at the Vatican last December.Reuters

A prominent Christian leader in Samoa has called for a ban on Muslims entering the republic.

Ma'auga Motu, secretary general of the Samoa Council of Churches, urged the government to ban Islam. He said he did not object in the least if people compared him to Donald Trump who last year suggested a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Of the Samoan islands' population of about 200,000, just 0.03 per cent are currently Muslim. The rest are nearly all Christian.

The prime minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, recently called for review of religious freedom. He wants Samoa's constitutional law changed to be more explicitly Christian.

Motu said he thought this would not be enough.

He said that Malielegaoi should impose a total ban because he claimed Islam represented a threat.

He told RadioNZ: "We are not going too far, no. We are still wanting our own people to be prevented from this kind of influence. There are so many people who are good people but still there are some dangerous people among them who might come and threaten our peace."

Mohammed Bin Yahya, chief Imam of Samoa, said Christians should learn not to discriminate. He also warned that such a ban could severely damage trading relationships.

Samoa, in the South Pacific, has been independent since 1962 and was ruled by New Zealand from 1914. The islands were governed by Germany for 14 years before that.

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