“KAMLA you will pay a hell of a price. A hell of a price!”
This was the vow yesterday from secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Satnarayan Maharaj as he slammed Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for supporting a Muslim OJT teacher who was told she could not wear her hijab if she wanted to teach at the Lakshmi Girls Hindu College.
Speaking “live” on TV Jaagriti ̶ with the radio arm of the station broadcasting him simultaneously ̶ Maharaj also uninvited Persad-Bissessar from Indian Arrival celebrations next Wednesday at Maha Sabha headquarters in St Augustine, where the college is also located.
“Another thing I want to tell you Kamla, we sent you an invitation for our Indian Arrival Day programme next Wednesday at Lakshmi College. You are due to talk, but I want to tell you now, I have revoked that invitation. You are not welcomed on our compound. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, you are not welcomed on our compound,” Maharaj said.
Persad-Bissessar will today attend a function at the Trinidad Muslim League (TML) in St Joseph. Efforts to reach her for a comment last night via calls to her cellphone, proved futile. The Maha Sabha’s annual Indian Arrival Day celebrations are usually held at the Parvati Girls Hindu School in Debe.
On Monday, OJT teacher Nafiesa Nakhid met with staff at the college when she was told if she wanted to work there, Maha Sabha policies dictated she could not wear her hijab on the compound. Nakhid was told she could take off the hijab on arriving at school and put it back on when she leaves the compound. She declined to take up the post.
News of this sparked a nationwide debate with many condemning the school for its perceived discrimination. However, Maharaj has stoutly defended the hijab ban stance saying it was part of the school’s dress code meant to instil discipline among both teachers, administrative staff and students.
Maharaj pointed out that the school has both teachers and students from many different religious and racial backgrounds, all co-existing, working and studying together peacefully. Nakhid has since been placed in a job at the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government headed by Minister Kazim Hosein.
The Government has since asked the courts for an interpretation of the issue. For her part, Persad-Bissessar on Thursday defended Nakhid saying, “This matter is not a political one, it is one of natural justice, equality and fairness.” She urged the Maha Sabha to to reconsider their decision and also called on the Education Minister and Attorney General to move swiftly to have this matter resolved.
In a statement, Persad- Bissessar defended the hijab saying it is a sacred wear for Muslim women. “While I agree that a dress code is appropriate at schools, the reality is a hijab cannot be classed in the same category as hats, capes, sleeveless dress or see through mini-skirts,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Continuing his attack on Persad-Bissesar yesterday, “live” on television, Maharaj also warned her that the Hindu vote could no longer be guaranteed for her.
“You take for granted, you could behave anyhow. You do what you want, eat what you want, drink what you want, play the a** all over the place and the Hindus gonna still vote for you. Kamla those days are over. We are asking the Hindus to free their vote. Vote for whichever party has the best programme.
“Vote for whichever candidate is the best candidate. Not because they are Indian and Hindu or woman. The Hindu vote is going to be freedom. No more voting because you belong to the same race. Kamla you are going to pay a hell of a price, a hell of a price, right,” Maharaj said. A clip of the broadcast was uploaded to social media and swiftly went viral.