Religious leaders: Sat Maharaj's attack on Manning out of line

Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 20:00

Trinidad Guardian: Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj, yesterday came in for stinging condemnation by religious leaders for describing former prime minister Patrick Manning as a “racist.”

The leaders also trained their guns on Maharaj for making many disparaging statements about people in the past, which they deemed were themselves racially-charged, inappropriate and out of place.

In an interview with the T&T Guardian, head of the Islamic Front, Umar Abdullah, said at no time had Manning discriminated against his group.

“Definitely not! Manning was a politician. In his capacity as prime minister he would have been faced with many challenges in making decisions for the country. I don’t think he had any ill-will against the Muslim community.”

SEE ALSO: PM sets "racist Manning" record straight; says Sat Maharaj bordering on sedition

In fact, Abdullah said he felt the Muslim community stood a better chance under the People’s National Movement (PNM) than with the United National Congress.

“I think Mr Maharaj was wrong in his estimation on Manning. Likewise, I could say the same thing about Sat Maharaj.

“If he wants to go down that road we could challenge him as well. Sat made several comments in the past that was very offensive to people by singling them out,” he added.

Maulana Abdul Salam also said Islam did not tolerate racism and they never saw that in Manning.

“I never knew Manning to be like that. In fact, when he was in power with the PNM he never discriminated against our religion or as Muslims. We enjoyed the freedom of rights and speech. Mr Sat Maharaj is a kind of loose canon by himself. I think he is the racist.”

Salam, a teacher at the Darul Uloom Boys' and Girls' Colleges, said Maharaj over the years had been “very raw and blunt” with his outbursts. 

Head of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) Harrypersad Maharaj opted not to speak on the IRO’s behalf but in his personal capacity.

“I have never felt from Mr Manning that he was racial,” Harrypersad Maharaj said.

Maharaj said he found Manning to be a cordial and respectful individual.

“Remember Sat had the big issue with the radio licence and definitely that was his experience.”

Dharmacharya of the Kabir Panth Association, Mahant Deodath Dass, who represents 12,000 members, also said at no time did Manning treat Hindus from his groups unfairly.

“We had a good relationship. We never had any problem with Manning being racial or discriminating,” Dass said.

“I admired him as a politician, except coming to the end (of his term) he was heading to perhaps becoming a dictator. I felt so.” 

Member of the Academy of Hinduism, Pundit Mukram Sirjoo, said Manning never showed bias towards the association’s 5,000-strong membership.

Sirjoo said Maharaj’s bone of contention with Manning seemed to stem from the radio and television licences “and because of that he (Maharaj) was turned off.” 

He said in the past the SDMS was “well treated by the government (PNM) because they got more subventions than other groups. They would get the lion’s share.”

SOURCE: (Shaliza Hassanali)