Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Samuel: Racist placards from ‘lunatic fringe’
Instigators of the racist placards during the May 23 protest against Government should own up to it and renounce it, says National Diversity and Social Integration Minister Rodger Samuel. At Thursday’s post-Cabinet briefing, Samuel said, “I condemn any semblance of racist views, any semblance of non-acceptance and non-tolerance in T&T as T&T is a melting pot and sets an example to the rest of the world.
“We’re fortunate to have people who are descendants of the world and we must send a clear message that we must not tolerate any ethnic bias or act of intolerance in T&T.” Samuel added, “Wherever the placards came from, those people must take ownership of it and renounce it likewise, and regardless of who they are—whether it is the PNM or whoever—they must take ownership of it and renounce it.”
Samuel said T&T’s race relations were wonderful compared to other nations, and very few would agree that T&T has a race problem. Samuel said the language of the placards went against the words of T&T’s national anthem: “Here every creed and race find an equal place.” He said “We hold to that anthem in T&T. We rub shoulders with each other at every level. Celebrations in T&T say to us we are one people.
“We’re about to celebrate Indian Arrival Day tomorrow and in this and other celebrations throughout the year the whole nation—everyone—celebrates whenever an occasion rolls around. “So the placards really go against all that we are and we as a nation don’t want to encourage those sentiments.” Labour Minister Errol McLeod said to spend time on the placards’ contents was to indicate an influx of the “lunatic fringe.”
“I don’t know who it might be, neither am I suggesting that only the man belonging to the lunatic fringe who paid the money is in that category,” McLeod added. Asked about public trust in the Government following allegations of ministerial involvement in the purported “ganja video,” McLeod said questions had already been asked of the Prime Minister on the issue and she had said she was examining it. McLeod added, “Until the facts come to me, there is no further comment.
“As difficult as that might be, it is unfair to ask subordinates of the Prime Minister the same questions posed to her.” Samuel said he couldn’t pre-judge Thursday’s COP meeting with MP Anil Roberts about the tape.