Muslims in central Trinidad say they are being branded as terrorists after reports surfaced that an Islamic organisation in the area is linked to an alleged assassination plot involving Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and other Cabinet Ministers.At the Masjid-ul-Muttaqeen mosque, Munroe Road, Cunupia, Maulana Sheraz Ali said more than 15 Muslim organisations were directly affected by the report.
"Since 9/11 the Muslim community has faced a lot of pressure and now we have become immune to the stigma," Ali said. Saying he was not disputing the validity of the assassination plot, Ali explained: "I really feel the authorities could have narrowed it down a little more."They leave everybody, who is Muslim, open for all kinds of suspicion. They should have been more precise instead of labelling everybody. There are so much Muslim groups in Central who are affected by this."
Ali added that while filling fuel at a service station yesterday, the pump attendant told him that Muslims were being treated unfairly.He added: "Everybody is looking at us as criminals but we have nothing to do with the threat on the Prime Minister. I am sure they would not have treated other religious groups like that." Meanwhile, head of the Montrose Muslim Association, Imam Hamza Mohammad, said he too experienced stereotyping yesterday. He said: "This will leave people to wonder if we are involved. Muslims will become targets now and fingers will be pointed at us. It is a bad image for Muslims.
"While driving through the streets people were saying 'all you want to assassinate the Prime Minister, boy.' It really is unfortunate."Mohammad also said he believed the plot was a hoax, geared at continuing the state of emergency.The imam added he already had bought goods for a night- time flea market for Christmas and if the state of emergency continued, then his business would be affected.
Other major Muslim organisations operating in central Trinidad are the ASJA Masjid, Longdenville Muslim Group, Enterprise Community Majid, Warrenville Jama Mosque, Tabligh Jamad, Kelly Village Islamic Centre, the Islamic Missionsaries Guild, St Helena, and the Darul Uloom.