Fasting Muslims who are observing the holy month of Ramadan hope Government will extend their curfew by half-an-hour for them to observe their nightly prayers at their mosques. President of the Anjuman Sunnat-ul-Jamaat Association (ASJA) Haji Yacoob Ali said many imams had expressed concern over the timing of a 9 pm to 5 am curfew in areas deemed to be hot spots. On Sunday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced a limited state of emergency in several crime hot spots in the country. Ali said ASJA supported Government's efforts to combat crime and hoped the measures implemented would reduce criminal activity.
In an interview yesterday, Ali said the nightly prayers extend until 9.20 pm in some mosques. The prayers are specifically performed during the month of Ramadan. The leader of the Taraweeh prayers leads worshippers by reading the Holy Qur'an from the first day of the fast until the end of the fasting period. Ali said: "It is for this reason that we are kindly asking that for the rest of this month the time be extended to 9.30 pm and we hope Government will oblige." Muslims began their fast on August 1. The Eid-ul-Fitr public holiday will be observed on September 1.
Ali said on the 27th night which is "The Night of Power" there is an all-night prayer vigil in mosques throughout the country. He said passes issued to families who would be out during that night would suffice. Meanwhile, the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) said it supported Government's decision.
A statement from the IRO said the activities of a few should not be allowed to encroach on the rights and liberties of the majority. The IRO also asked that sensitivity be extended to the Muslim community who would be making their way home when the curfew takes effect. The statement said: "While we recognise the need at times to temporarily sacrifice our civil liberties in order to allow the security agencies the opportunity to curb a situation that may be considered out of control, we look forward to a speedy return to normalcy, as these sacrifices, if endured for an extended period can have a detrimental effect on lives."