Muslim leaders yesterday welcomed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s invitation for talks to clear up any misinformation related to the Carnival terror threat.
Imam Nazim Mohammed, of Masjid Umar Ibn Khattab Jamaat in Rio Claro, whose daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren travelled to war torn Iraq in 2015, said the meeting is urgently needed.
“It’s a good idea. It’s the only way we can know what is going on and for the country to return to normalcy because everyone is in a state of fear,” he said.
Mohammed, who said he has been under surveillance by local intelligence personnel said: “These officers monitor me all the time which I don’t have a problem with. They are doing their work.”
However, he took issue with Rowley’s warning to citizens about a possible coup attempt.
“By saying that, you are showing weakness. I feel the Prime Minister was wrong in making such a statement. To me, it was irresponsible,” he said.
Vice president of the Trinidad Muslim League Nasser Mustapha said the Government is unaware of the history, goals, background, diversity and ideology of local Muslims.
“As a first step, the Government has to understand the Muslim community and the constituent groups. We have a lot in common and are united by a common doctrine, but to look at every Muslim as the same is unfortunate,” he said.
“This meeting should not look at the country’s security concern alone but a way to build bridges and create harmony among the groups because what we want is a peaceful society with minimum conflict and disagreements.”
Mustapha said while law enforcement has to take every threat seriously, there is need for more dialogue between Muslims leaders and the Government. He said Muslims feel marginalized.
“You cannot have dialogue with selected individuals and groups. Let us meet and exchange ideas and try to see things in a common manner because there is mutual suspicion on both sides,” he said.
Imam Edue Mohammed, of the Al Khaleefah Masjid in Longdenville, one of the 13 people detained during the Carnival terror plot investigation, said he is open to talks.
Imam Taulib Searles, of the Enterprise Community Masjid, also welcomed the suggestion adding that it should have happened months ago.
“As head of the National Security Council, I really want to hear what the Prime Minister will tell us. He would know what triggered this terror plot. Something has to be bothering him to call such a meeting to find out what the Muslims leaders now thinking and if we are discomforted. Likewise we would have questions for the Prime Minister to answer. So we wait and see,” he said.
Searles said the people who were detained then released are still confused.
“I don’t think they did it the right way. They acted prematurely,” he said. “Too many people are fearful that something will happen.”
Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Shaliza Hassanali)