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Imams return after Venezuela detention
Three imams yesterday returned to T&T after being detained in custody in Venezuela for the past 55 days. There were tears of joy and sadnesss as they arrived at the Piarco International Airport. The group was held in Venezuela when they attempted to secure visas at the Saudi Arabian consulate for those who were going to the small Hajj (Umrah). Members of the Muslim communities including the elderly and babies hugged and welcomed them back home.
Sheik Hassan Hamid, Iman Hamzah Mohammed, and Abdullah Salaam arrived on a flight on board Caribbean Airlines was sponsored by the Ministry of Finance. This is the second time in seven months these three men had problems while trying to secure visas in Venezuela. Five men who remain in the custody of the Venezuelan intelligence service (SEBIN) Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional) continue their hunger strike.
A group which included women and children were sent home over two weeks ago after a day time raid on their hotel. In an interview with the media, the imans claimed the other five detainees were not charged even though they have been in custody for a long period of time. They appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take more proactive stance in the arrests of the others and assist in having a Saudi Embassy here in T&T.
Hamid said he was not treated “badly” when he was in custody and will spend his time home with his family. “If there is a need to go over there again to get visas there is no problem. If this is the price we have to go pay to get our brothers and sisters...look around there is only love and this is what it takes...I should be back there trying to get our brothers released,” he said.
President of the Islamic Missionaries Guild of the Caribbean and South America, Imtiaz Mohammed, and attorney Nafeesa Mohammed who supported said it was good for the families to be united.