Big pride in small nation

“It is a homeland which punches way above its weight when it comes to the quality of its people.”

Greenway MP Michelle Rowland is proud of her Fijian heritage – something she was able to celebrate with hundreds of guests at the Baitul Huda mosque in Marsden Park last week.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community hosted one of many memorable events around Sydney in the build up to Fiji Day on Monday, October 10.

About 7 per cent of people in Fiji are Muslim, and Fijians make up a significant proportion of the Ahmadiyya community in western Sydney.

Honoured guests on Sunday, October 9, included Ms Rowland, Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali, and the Fijian High Commissioner to Australia, His Excellency Yogesh Punja.

Both politicians spoke about trade and a desire for Australia to change its relationship with its proud island neighbour.

“We tend to think about Fiji when natural disasters happen in terms of aid recipients, but Fiji’s got enormous potential,” Ms Rowland said.

“There’s a lot of Chinese investment going into Fiji and the rest of the south pacific, and Australia really needs to step up if we’re going to be an important trading partner.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have greater economic ties with one of our closest neighbours.”

Ms Rowland also commended the Ahmadiyya community for their commitment to inter-faith and cross-cultural dialogue.

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