PRESIDENT Paula-Mae Weekes yesterday strongly condemned any person or group that tries to portray Muslims as terrorists to satisfy their own nefarious agendas.
Weekes’ defence of the Muslim community came on the eve of today’s Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations and after Muslims have been in the spotlight recently for the wrong reasons.
In her first Eid-ul-Fitr message to the nation, the President began by noting that Eid, “celebrates the end of the period of Ramadan, a month-long commitment to fasting, prayer and contemplation by Muslims worldwide.”
“The solidarity and sacrifices made by Muslims during this time and in their daily lives highlight the stark contrast between the spiritual values of brotherhood, peace and mutual respect advocated in the Holy Qur’an, and the violence, hatred and intolerance practised by some who claim to share the same beliefs,” Weekes said.
She said it was a paradox that right here “in our blessed nation” there are one or more criminal gangs who call themselves Muslims but whose actions cannot be reconciled to the Qur’an’s message of peace and tolerance.
As she condemned these people, Weekes declared, “It is alarming to observe the distortion of the message of Islam practised by some in TT and around the world, who have been drawn into lifestyles of brutality and contempt for human life.”
The President said, “It must dishearten those who strive to be devout ambassadors of their religion to see it so inaccurately portrayed.” She urged local Muslims not to bow to the pressures coming from this minority, saying they must remain steadfast in exemplifying the true tenets of their faith, “and we all must be discerning to realize that the abhorrent acts of the minority do not at all reflect the teachings, values and principles of Islam.”
The country’s diverse heritage, she continued, “enables every creed and race to share in the joy of those who would have broken their month-long fast.”
She encouraged the country “to reflect thoroughly on the values of brotherhood and generosity demonstrated by Muslims during the observance of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid.”
For the last month, Weekes said, TT’s Islamic community has been “practising self-restraint and engaging in acts of charity and forgiveness.” This advocates restraint not only from food and drink, but also from malice and ill-will. Weekes said, “A considerable level of dedication and selflessness is required for this undertaking.”
Today, the President said, “is a joyful day for Muslims around the world, as celebrations are held in homes, mosques and communities.” She said central to today’s Eid celebrations is the emphasis placed on family and community life, as people seek to share their experiences and engage one with another. Weekes’ statement comes during a period when a series of adverse events have plagued the Muslim community.
Recently, guns were found hidden in the roof a mosque in Central Trinidad. In another incident, a man was shot to death in his car which was parked outside a mosque in Arima. Also, a gang known as the Unruly ISIS has targeted the Rasta City gang for revenge killings, once Eid ul Fitr is observed. On Sunday, the Prime Minister had to clear the air after the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) and others accused him of insulting Muslims when he spoke about the discovery of the arms and ammunition at the Masjid-ul-Muttaqeen mosque in Cunupia.