Officials of the Anjuman Sunnat-Ul-Jamaat (ASJA) will meet this weekend to discuss the Government's decision to consider making the Jamaat al Muslimeen's Islamic Educational Complex a denominational school. Chairman of the ASJA Educational Board Yacoob Ali said he did not want to reveal his personal views on the issue without first consulting with fellow Muslims.
If the Jamaat school becomes denominational, the ministry will have to provide two-thirds of the school's funding, in accordance with the Educational Concordat of 1960. "We have scheduled a meeting this weekend and once that is complete, ASJA will issue a statement," Ali said.
Several people have expressed strong disagreement with the proposal to provide government funding for the school. Prominent among them is veteran journalist Raoul Pantin who spoke about the matter in evidence before the Commission of Enquiry into the July 1990 coup attempt. "Why is my taxpayer's money going to a school of Jihadists? Is the minister aware of what is being taught at these schools?" Pantin asked. Interim leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, Lorris Ballack, contended that the religious organisation was a victim of discrimination. "In 29 years we never get a penny. We were never given funding by the State," he said. Ballack said since the Jamaat's Islamic Educational School was established in 1978, the Government had discriminated by refusing funding. He claimed the school had produced outstanding lawyers and doctors including Fuad Abu Bakr, son of Yasin Abu Bakr. "We want to thank all the Muslims in this country for coming together and those who intend to come together," Ballack said.
He said since some Muslims were targeted and accused of being involved in a plot to kill Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Muslims across the country are beginning to unite. "Before you only had to hear something about the Jamaat and many of our Muslim brothers used to consider that the truth. Since the truth has reached them, almighty Allah definitely will guide us to have strong unity, Ballack said. He added that the Jamaat Educational Complex followed the guidelines of the ministry's curriculum. Former Education Minister Dr Adesh Nanan said during his time in office discussions were held about making the Mucurapo school denominational. "Curriculum officers were sent to the Jamaat school to ensure they were following the ministry's curriculum and guidelines. There was a criteria for funding, but it seems they did not meet that criteria because they were denied funding," Nanan said. He could not remember further details. Nanan said he was in full support of Minister Tim Gopeesingh's approach. He said once the Jamaat fulfilled all requirements, the school should get the same entitlements as other bodies. General Secretary of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Satnarine Maharaj said the Jamaat's insurrection of 1990 was a different issue to that of educational funding.