Saturday, May 29, 2004

Bdos: Bajans wake up and smell TT's coffee

Frankly, I'm stunned. Now, how does the Advocate reconcile these words with their rampant anti-Americanism vis-a-vis Iraq?

The extent to which central authorities fear criticism by today’s permissive liberals is reflected in the latitude they allow the very people whose only ambition is to undermine and destabilise the state.

As previously indicated, we are firmly of the view that it was a mistake from the very beginning to under-estimate the determination of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen in Trinidad & Tobago to make yet another mark on the twin-island republic’s political landscape.

While we await evidence that the group is targeting leading public officials for assassination, it behoves the rest of this region to forego words or actions that would encourage ideas of impunity for persons whose conduct runs counter to democratic governance.

The Jamaat did not suddenly appear as a lawless element. Progress to that stage was gradual, helped in no small measure by apologists for mindless radicalism.

Freedom of expression, in whatever form, does not confer freedom to infringe the rights of law-abiding citizens. CARICOM governments can be certain that so long as the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen is not fully neutralised, other fringes will take heart. In one form or another they have already laid siege to communities, prompting law-enforcers into sometimes controversial tactics to safeguard innocent residents.

Negotiating an end to the bloody coup 14 years ago was T&T’s most humane way to reach a settlement. But the definition of “settlement” is not incentive to commit further mischief. For a start, the Jamaat does not share Port-of-Spain’s idea of government.

It maintains its long-standing determination to be in control of a portion of that country, members living and dying by its rules
, but not in conditions equivalent to those on now outdated North American Indian reservations.

There can be no state within a state such as extremists in the radical Islamic group are pressing to establish, and liberals outside seem to accept as desirable, but separatist, drug-related communes are springing up elsewhere in this region.

Meanwhile, Jamaat desperation is setting in. One of its most important sponsors, Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gadhafi, recently made an about-face as regards his relationship with Western democracies. The Jamaat’s leader, Yasin Abu Bakr knows he can no longer expect the same – or any – any level of psychological or other support such as Tripoli previously lavished on him.

There is little prospect of his group achieving its primary objectives while the main pillars of the twin-island republic’s most important institutions remain in place, unshaken. Hopefully, Port-of-Spain learned important tactical lessons from the bloody confrontation in 1990. It can be sure the Jamaat learned some as a well. Whether the group carries out its alleged new threat against key public figures, and be successful at it, may well depend on how much the State lowers its guard under the influence of what is perhaps this region’s largest special interest group – sceptics. Indeed, not only sceptics but also simpletons who parrot a heady philosophy that modern-day terrorists will one day be celebrated as heroic freedom fighters.


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