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Monday 20 August 2018
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NO INSULT MEANT

Vindication after mosque raids, but PM says

PM Dr Keith Rowley

PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday said a statement he made last Wednesday at a PNM meeting in Barataria about arms and ammunition being discovered at the Masjid-ul-Muttaqeen mosque in Cunupia, cannot be interpreted by anyone as an insult against TT’s Muslims.

“Whilst I am reluctant to respond to the predictable UNC activists and the voices of any self-serving extremist fringe who seek opportunity and benefit to stir up ethnic and religious discord in our country, I am duty bound to respond so as to prevent any harmful misrepresentation of any statements made by me or any action taken by the Government,” Rowley told Newsday.

He continued, “All those who listened to my comment about the discovery of lethal weapons and ammunition at a mosque last week, would have heard me make two specific points.” The first point, he said, was that whenever credible information about arms, ammunition or lawlessness comes to the attention of the security services, those agencies are duty bound to intervene, regardless of where the items are sequestered or who is involved.

“I clearly stated that where places of worship are involved, it matters not whether they belong to any particular religion as the law applies equally, to all denominations.”

The second point, Rowley said was, “I also referenced the uninformed, reckless and unwarranted conclusions of a few spokespersons who, last Carnival after a security exercise was triggered, based on very credible information, such voices accused the State of being anti-Muslim and of unlawfully persecuting persons because of their religious persuasion.”

He declared that the recent weapons find at the Munroe Road Mosque was mentioned purely in the context that there may be times when this kind of action of a few, will and must involve an intervention by State security services, in the interest and security of all and must therefore not be seen or wrongfully interpreted as an attack on a religious group or the persecution of the vast majority of members of that religion who are by and large peaceful, law-abiding citizens.

This recent news item, Rowley said, simply underscores the point that it is understandable there may be instances where law enforcement may receive information of unacceptable, unlawful conduct, even at a place of worship. The PM said he was confident, “that these reasonable and clear positions would have been received by right-thinking citizens of all persuasions, religious or otherwise, and that the people will roundly reject all attempts to politicise and misrepresent necessary law enforcement as religious persecution.”

Rowley concluded, “I want to give the reassurance to all members of the Muslim community, particularly at this season of Ramadan, that as a major component of this nation, they can look forward to nothing other than brotherly love, as we commit to living together in peace and harmony.”

The US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has been called in to assist police in their investigations in the gun find at the mosque last week. Sunday Newsday exclusively reported the threat to disrupt this year’s Carnival was real. The plans for this threat began in 2014.

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