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Muslims claim police provocation at sando rally
Members of the T&T Police Service were blamed for provocation of Muslims who attended yesterday’s rally at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.
Some Muslim spectators were forced to pull aside while their vehicles were searched upon entry through the southern gate by police officers.
One private security guard, a Muslim brother identified as Nazir Karim said he was asked to hold on at the gate when he was approached by a group of “ordinary dressed” men who claimed to be police officers. He said he was ordered into a security guard booth where he was bodily searched.
“I was shown no police ID badges. What they were looking for I do not know but I felt very ashamed and shocked that I didn’t know what to do next. I feel like I can’t even carry on with my duties now,” Karim said.
Public relations officer Imtiaz Mohammed described the manner in which the police came as “distasteful.”
“I can’t understand the reason why the police came here and searching people who have no problems with the law. We are being oppressed and this shows exactly what we are talking about. We are peaceful people,” Mohammed.
While Mohammed was seeking to get answers from the police the head of the Islamic Front, Umar Abdullah approached a senior police officer and attempted to talk to him. It was at this point Mohammed pointed to Abdullah and told him not to get involved between them and the police. Abdullah accused Mohammed of antagonising the police.
Speaking to the T&T Guardian afterwards, Mohammed explained that he warned Abdullah twice before to “remain in the background” and “not to cause any trouble or distraction.”
He added that the event was organised to show unity among all Muslim organisations and Masjids in T&T and to showcase that they do not incite any kind of violence or confrontations.
Inshan Ishmae,l of the Islamic Broadcasting Network, later addressed the large gathering and told them of the police actions.
Ishmael reiterated that they are peaceful people.
“With us Muslims gathering there was no need to pay the police, we knew that they will be here. We do not incite violence,” Ishmael said.
“To the police we are your doctors, lawyers and garbage men. I stand here proud but while you are here Muslims gathering no need to pay for the police they will be here people are being raped, robbed and cars stolen so maybe you need to be elsewhere,” he added.
A senior officer of the Southern Division, who did not give his name ,would only say that by law the police can proceed to conduct random searches of any vehicle and any person.
In her speech on the implications of the Anti-Terrorism Bill Amendments, attorney and former senator and deputy political leader of the PNM, Nafeesa Mohammed said T&T Muslims are not violent extremists.
Mohammed said that the piece of legislation is flawed and added that it will “fundamentally affect our constitutional rights.”
She questioned if a policy was developed that would have determined the extent and nature of the problem in the society.
“When have to enact laws that will contravene the laws you have to come real good. Who have done the analysis? What is it that makes us Muslims here so dangerous you have to restrict our movements?” Mohammed said.
Mohammed said that she strongly believes that there should be meaningful dialogue on the way forward especially with the fact that the proposed amendments would give “dangerous powers” to the Minister of National Security and the Attorney General.
Fiaz Ali, graduate of the Fadhil programme at Darul Uloom, spoke on Islamophobia and Terrorism Globally.
Ali explained that Islamophobia means a fear of Islam which unbelievers are attempting to spread. He said Islam is the true teachings and people are trying to cause opposition so that it would hinder people from joining Islam.
“Today the world is facing Islamophobia. They try to create in the minds of people fear and hysteria. The way forward, we cannot come here and speak about issues and problems and not offer solutions,” Ali said.
He recommended that Muslims must learn what Islam is, “so we can propagate what is correct. We must tell what the truth is otherwise they will come with own concepts and belief and use it against us.”
“We must educate ourselves with national and international news so we can effectively deal with issues,” Ali added.
Fifteen people were detained in the recent Carnival threat alert exercises carried out by the security forces.
Police reportedly said that they received credible information about a threat to disrupt the Carnival. Searches were done from El Socorro to East, South and Central Trinidad.
Fifteen people were detained. Thirteen were released without charge. A couple was charged with firearm possession. The woman was given bail while the man was denied bail. They will reappear in Court on Friday.
Nafeesa Mohammed’s nephew Tariq was the first to be detained in the Carnival exercise.
Muslim groups made an initial submission on the Anti-Terrorism amendments last week and received an extension of time to submit more information. The bill is being examined by a special Parliamentary Committee, which reports by month end.
Up to late yesterday a petition to be presented to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had reached 800 signatures. The petition is expected to be delivered tomorrow
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