Friends of the Youths of T&T hosted a celebration for Leroy “Black Stalin” Calliste’s 75th birthday, at the South National Academy for Performing Arts on Saturday.
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Ex-mayor slams remarks by Ford, Faris
Former Arima mayor Ghassan Youseph has taken offense at various remarks by Opposition PNM general secretary Ashton Ford and PNM senator Faris Al Rawi which he said seeks to bring him and T&T’s Arab community into negative spotlight. Ghassan, a COP frontliner, was commenting on remarks by specific remarks by Ford in connection with Ghassan himself last Friday and Al Rawi’s comments in the Senate last week
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, in the Senate last week, had joked Al Rawi was a “prophet” since Al Rawi was quoted in a newspaper in 2010 saying he was descended from the prophet Muhammed. Al Rawi had retorted if Ramlogan “had a problem with Arabs.” Ford, commenting on an Arima park which was named for him, denied Ghassan’s recent letter that Eden Rahim Park was renamed for him (Ford).
The Arima corporation clarified another park was named for Ford and the sign for that was erroneously placed on the Eden Rahim Park. However, Ford also said he was born in the area where the park was named for him and outlining his work in Arima, added, “When I was an Arima councillor at age 26, Ghassan Youseph was now learning to talk English!” On that, Ghassan said he and Ford were friends, but Ford’s statement bordered on having racial content.
“Don’t come to me on personal aspects, my size or so, or cast insinuations about personal things. Talk about issues. If PNM is doing this now, what will happen if they become Government?” Ghassan added. “With all due respect to T&T’s First Peoples, all of us came here to T&T. We need to understand that and move forward. The song ‘Caribbean Man’ should be ringing in everyone’s ears, we should celebrate our diversity, not denigrate each other,”
Saying Ford had been among Arimians who backed current mayor George Hadeed for the mayorship, Ghassan said his problem with the park was principle, since a petition to the corporation was no substitute for open public consultation, such as a town hall meeting
“Norman Kistow, Rose Jannierre, Leroy Morris all served as mayors much longer than Ashton. If no park was named for them and one was named for Ford who served less time then they did, it could be perceived as political patronage and nepotism,” he added.
On Al Rawi’s Senate remarks, Ghassan said, “Nobody was speaking about Arabs that day until Al Rawi brought it up. Why bring the Arab community into the arguments he was having? He was using minority status to defend himself and one shouldn’t use the issues.”