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Muslims seek Govt support

Friday, March 9, 2018
Detained couple in Jordan wants to come home

The continuing detention of a T&T family in Jordan was raised by the Muslims of T&T (MOTT) group at Wednesday’s meeting with Government, which has since been advised on follow-up action with three ministries to get the couple home.

MOTT PRO Imtiaz Mohammed confirmed this following Wednesday’s meeting between Muslim leaders, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and the National Security Council.

After Rowley launched discussions, Mohammed said he was the first Muslim leader to speak at the four-hour meeting. It involved representatives of traditional groups and independent masjids. MOTT is the umbrella group for several of the latter.

Mohammed said yesterday the issue of the T&T family in Jordan was among points raised. He said the East Trinidad family members were Keegan Roopchand, Zaida Mohammed and their seven-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.

The family went to Jordan in January, where Mohammed was said to be pursuing a nursing course. It was recently reported they were detained by US agency officials and allegedly supplied information which led to various authorities’ knowledge of the recent to disrupt Carnival 2018. When Rowley was asked about it on return from a recent Caricom meeting, he didn’t confirm or deny it, indicating there were some security matters which couldn’t be discussed.

Mohammed said the family’s relatives contacted MOTT recently, asking Mohammed to take up their issue. He said after MOTT representatives raised the issue at Wednesday’s meeting, he was subsequently advised to write the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, National Security - copied to the AG’s office - seeking the family’s status.

“Our letters will request Government intervention to expedite their return. Recently, we’ve seen many Muslims travelling for legitimate reasons being detained more than a year, with little effort made to bring them back,” he said.

Mohammed said Rowley began Wednesday’s meeting by making it clear Government wasn’t against Muslims, but if anyone broke the law - no matter what religion- they’d face charges.

“He also indicated - on recent detentions - if people felt unfairly detained they could seek legal redress. I informed him of the damage to people’s character, the Muslim community’s reputation and that of Islam when police did the Carnival ‘searches’. I stressed they have to work for the public’s trust,” Mohammed said.

“The meeting was a good opportunity for Muslims to vent - as they did very, very frankly - on issues from the Anti-Terrorism bill to the Carnival detentions. The police got a lot of ‘licks’.”

Mohammed added, “I told the PM he appeared slightly defensive on issues raised and appealed to him to listen.”

On whether he was comforted by the meeting, Mohammed said, “It’s left to be seen if politicians respond positively.”

He said they were going ahead with plans for a rally on Sunday at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, themed ‘Muslims Against Oppression and Terrorism’. He said it is open to general public and all Muslims since the Anti-Terrorism bill has proposals that could affect everyone’s rights.”

Mohammed said AJSA and other traditional groups had come together on the issue. Attorney Nafeesa Mohammed, who also addressed the meeting with Rowley, said it “released some tensions.”


Office of the Prime Minister spokesman Stuart Young said yesterday that Islamic Front leader Umar Abdullah wasn’t invited to Wednesday’e meeting at the Diplomatic Centre, since he’d been on international television saying he’d recruited for ISIS. Young said once someone wasn’t invitedd, they wouldn’t get in.

Speaking during yesterday’s post-Cabinet briefing, Young said the meeting was historic.

“Commentary by leaders indicate they were pleased. We hope this is the start of relationship building among the Muslims, the National Security Council and law enforcement.”

Other meeting attendees said the PM stood by his statements that there are ISIS sympathisers locally. A spokesman called for mechanisms to deal with people who’ve been restricted from travelling to countries. Another complained about the US influence here.

They added that a Central representative spoke of problems with the Rasta City gang. He also said Imams - like priests - couldn’t violate people’s trust if they confided things they want to do; but Imams could correct wrong direction observed.

They added that Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr also clashed with a couple Muslim members on certain remarks, while one speaker complained of his own issues with police. Complaint against police was so strong, they added, one official, quipped he felt “persecuted.”



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