Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Mosque chairman: Malala was not banned
Education advocate Malala Yousafzai, 17, was not banned from speaking at the Masjid un Nur in Carapichaima during Eid prayers on Tuesday. Chairman of the Working Committee at the mosque, Fareed Khan, told the T&T Guardian that on the contrary, Yousafzai was in fact, given the opportunity to address the Muslim women of the mosque, “in private, after Salaat (prayers) while on the upper floor with them.” The ground floor is occupied by the Muslim men and the Imam of the mosque, Riaz Shah.
Yousafzai arrived at Piarco on Sunday and was greeted by host Minister of Tertiary Education, Fazal Karim. It was that same day, according to Khan, that Karim contacted the mosque’s committee and Imam Shah and informed them that Yousafzai would be in attendance on Eid morning for the performing of Salaat. “We, informed the minister that our Eid programme was already fixed for that day but was told that she (Yousafzai) would not be speaking but would only be there for Salaat, so, this was the pre-arrangement and the agreement.” Khan said Yousafzai and her entourage arrived at about 8 am on Tuesday and she was escorted upstairs of the mosque, to the female section, while her father and brothers were escorted downstairs to the male section.
He also raised the issue where a female security officer attempted to desecrate the mosque by refusing to remove her boots. “She (the security officer) did so after she was instructed to by her male co-security personnel,” he added. Khan said Yousafzai left the mosque immediately after Salaat but returned shortly after, where she attempted to speak to the congregation. “It was at this point that she was told she could not speak as it was not in the pre-arrangement made with the committee and Karim,” he said. He added, however, that if the masjid’s executive committee, along with Shah, were told before Eid that Yousafzai wanted to address the Muslims in Carapichaiama, special arrangements would have been made for her to do so, “but not on Eid day, as the programme was already planned, with it being kept very tight. Procedures must be followed, especially at the mosque.”
A committee meeting was held on Wednesday evening to discuss the issue and it was agreed that an additional meeting would be held soon, this time, with Karim. When contacted for comment yesterday, Karim said: “Well there is nothing I can say again. I mean, there is nothing I can tell you. I am in a meeting right now, so maybe another time.” He
then hung up.