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Saturday 17 August 2019
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Nafeesa: We are not terrorists

FORMER deputy political leader of the People’s National Movement Nafeesa Mohammed said the Muslim community in Mohammed Ville and El Socorro Road were being painted as “terrorists” and expressed concern about upcoming anti-terrorism legislation.

“Now we are being painted with a brush of terror. We are not terrorists,” she told Newsday in a telephone interview.

Mohammed was terminated as legal advisor to the Office of the Prime Minister this week. She said no reason was given for her termination but she believed it was from the events of last week when her cousin, Tariq Mohammed, and others were detained for allegedly plotting to disrupt Carnival activities.

“I want to thank the honourable Prime Minister for affording me the opportunity to work in the office for that brief period from December to last week.”

After her cousin was detained Mohammed posted on Facebook that the “cabal seems to be at it again” and she said this was prompted by seeing blood on her cousin’s face and jersey. She said this incident made her reflect on the experience in 2014 when 19 Trinidadian Muslims were detained in Venezuela under suspicion of being terrorists.

Returning to the detaining of her cousin and others, Mohammed said she commended the police and law enforcement for taking steps to act on information they may have had in their possession. However, she appealed to them that when they gather intelligence at whatever level, they try to verify the accuracy instead of going out “carte blanche” and detaining people for unreasonably long periods of time.

“Under what law they acted I cannot fathom. If you have reason to believe an offence is being committed, the law as I understand it you can take someone in for questioning. But you ought not to detain the person for an unreasonable period of time.”

She questioned how people could be held for six or seven days with no charges being laid. She said it was so-called intelligence that led her cousin to be detained for 18 months in Saudi Arabia and now one year later the father of three is traumatised again and is tarnished for life.

Mohammed reported that since the detentions, she had been bombarded with calls from law-abiding families that have been affected. “Our closest friends are looking at us as though we are some dangerous people to be around.”

She advised that officers learn a bit more and try to understand the make-up of the Muslim community.

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