President of the Trinidad Muslim League (TML) Nasser Mustapha has described as "unfortunate" a recruitment drive in central Trinidad by Rasta City and the Muslims–two Port-of-Spain-based gangs.
Mustapha said young people in Central had been looking for something to hold on to "and a gang presents an opportunity for them to feel a sense of attachment. I think whether it is Rastafarianism or Islam, it is just a cover-up. They operate in the same way as any other criminal gang. It is not something that is influenced by religion and values as such."
Rasta City is reportedly based in Beetham Gardens and the Muslims in Laventille.
He said the youth in T&T were being misguided.
"They do not have strong family ties or parents who care. They claim to have a religious identity. It's unfortunate these things are happening in Enterprise. If you are forming a religious group you should have God and spirituality in your life."
Mustapha said some people were dressed in Muslim garb but "their hearts remain unchanged. I am not sure if these people pray."
Mustapha, a lecturer in sociology, said in the month of Ramadan, Muslims were taught to practise self-restraint, patience and tolerance.
Last month, the gangs experienced a setback when head of the Central Division of the Police Service, Snr Supt Johnny Abraham, arrested two key players and slapped some 34 shooting and gun charges on them.