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PM must apologise

Published: 
Friday, June 15, 2018
Jordan detainee’s denial stuns Muslim heads
Imam Rasheed Karim, left, embraces worshipper Aslam Ghany following the sighting of the moon, marking the end of Ramadan, at the Majid ul Furqaan in Felicity last evening. PICTURE SHASTRI BOODAN

As the Muslim community celebrates Eid-ul-Fitr today, they are hoping that any greetings from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will include an apology for what the community believes is “all the false news and false information” which has been put in the public domain about the so-called Carnival plot.

Speaking to the T&T Guardian yesterday, Muslims of Trinidad and Tobago PRO Imtiaz Mohammed said revelations by Keegan Roopchan that he was forced to go along with a so-called Carnival terror plot that was scripted by the Jordanians, raises serious questions the Prime Minister, as head of the National Security Council, must address.

That Carnival plot led to raids of mosques and homes and the detention of several Muslims for several days, but Mohammed said when the matter got to the DPP “there was not sufficient evidence to charge anybody.” He said the Muslim community had said all along that the Carnival plot was a hoax, because since then to now no “real evidence” had emerged to support the claim. He said the authorities had claimed “their source of information for this threat came from the Roopchans in Jordan and this is how they knew of the threat.”

Declaring that “people’s lives were put at stake” and that there was “character assassination” of the Roopchans, who also suffered “intimidation, aggression and hardship” in Jordan, Mohammed said this was not something anyone would “wish on their worst enemies.” He urged the authorities to “tell the truth because I don’t think they have been telling the truth all along.”

Mohammed, who was among Muslim leaders who met with the PM in March after the so-called Carnival terror plot was revealed, said the PM had given the impression at the end of the meeting there would have been further discussions with the Muslim community. Instead, he said when the weapons were found in a Chaguanas mosque recently, the PM chose to go on a political platform to link the weapons find to the Carnival terror plot.

He accused Rowley of being “mischievous,” “careless” and “reckless ” and called on him to “come out and apologise right away to the Muslim community for all the false news, all the false information put in the public space about Muslims.”

But head of the Nur el Islam Mosque in El Socorro, Imam Sheraz Ali, did not go as far as calling for an apology. Rather he wants an “investigation” by local authorities into Roopchan’s account of what happened in Jordan. He said it was “very disturbing” to have read such a “harrowing account.” While he had no way of “verifying” what Roopchan said was true, he said, “It is certainly something that should be investigated.”

Asked whether he intended to write to the authorities on the matter, Ali said he is part of a “Muslim Round Table” which meets “regularly” with the Minister of National Security “and we will certainly use whatever power we have to request him to further investigate this matter and bring it to closure.”

The last meeting of the Round Table was in February, but Ali said there was an indication that it would meet every three months.

Nafeesa Mohammed, who was fired as a legal advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister following the terror plot and who also attended the meeting of Muslim leaders hosted by Rowley, said it was regrettable no further dialogue had taken place with the Muslim community since.

Given Roopchan’s account of what transpired in Jordan, she said she is hoping the “Prime Minister will do all in his power to protect the sovereignty of the country and safeguard and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens.”

Roopchan’s account, she said, seemed in contradiction with what the country had been told and the issue must be investigated. Mohammed said what had emerged was “a high level of Islamaphobia” and that Muslims had been painted with a “brush of terror,” which must be addressed.

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