Tuesday, July 20, 2004

TT: Balkanizing Trinidad -- Muslims want to create a society in a society

A proposal to create Muslim villages has discomforted the head of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) and drawn objections from the ASJA leadership.

However, a Muslim senator and others of the faith believe there is merit in the suggestion.

They were responding to a plan to set up Muslim villages proposed by Islamic scholar Maulana Imran Hosein, of the San Fernando Jama Masjid, during a public lecture at San Fernando Technical Institute on Sunday.

Hosein said the aim was to preserve Islam as a way of life, and protect members of the faith from the many ills facing the society.

He said the villages would be set up in remote areas, and disclosed that a site in Gran Couva had been identified.

Rev Cyril Paul, head of the IRO, said yesterday that his first reaction to the proposal was a sense of discomfort.

His concern stemmed from the laws to which the village would adhere.

Would this Muslim village have its own rules and laws and regulations? What about rules and laws and regulations of T&T? To whom would the membership be accountable, to the Muslim state or to the State of T&T?

He recalled the experiences of the people of Afghanistan, who had to adhere to strict, rigid rules under the Taliban regime.

“I am not saying this group will be Talibanesque in any way, but we have to be wary.”

UNC Senator Sadiq Baksh said the idea was rooted in the hopelessness society felt in the face of crime, and the inability of the political administration to deal with the issue.

Baksh, a follower of the maulana and his teachings, said: “We are facing challenging times, and all I am saying is this kind of discussion on the possibility of people living in close proximity to each other, is based on the reality of life in T&T today.”

Support for the concept has also come from Maulana Ahmad Siddiq Nasir, who said he lived in two Muslim villages in Pakistan.

No one smoked or played music loudly in the village
, he said.

However, he cautioned that serious planning must go into establishing such a village.

Trinidadian-born resident in Canada Ashmead Mohammed, who was also present at the lecture, said he had discussions with Muslims living in Canada and the United States, who were under threat because of their religion, and they were in full support of the idea.

“If you want to move up in society you have to be gay or behave gay. In Canada women can go topless, but we have to lower our gaze
.”

Businessman Inshan Ishmael, focusing on the division in the Muslim community, said the village could be the unifying link among members of the faith.

Ishmael said by August he would establish the first Muslim television station in the country.

“Muslims have sat down and when we look at what Hindus and Christians are getting, we are getting nothing. It is time to raise our voices,” Ishmael said.

But ASJA president Yacoob Ali said they could not and would not support such an idea of “a society within a society.”

“The idea is not consonant with the practices of the faith. If you live in a purely Muslim society, yes, but when you live in a plural society, you have to be part of the mainstream society.”
After a century or so of TT being a pluralistic society in which all religions worshipped without let or hindrance -- this was true except during the war-time and post years when Spiritual Baptists were persecuted -- Muslims now desire to balkanize TT.

Allegedly, the raison d'etre is the level of crime in TT; yet those living abroad, as well as Maulana Nasir, indicate that the reason is actually to create a pure Islamic society. Given the increasing Wahhabization of TT Muslims, how long before they stockpile enough arms and terrorists like Adnan El Shukrijumah, who has ties to TT, in their "Muslim villages" in order to launch another coup so that all of TT may be one big Muslim village? How long before the "pure" want to purify the "impure" rest of society? What will happen to those who rob and kill in "Muslim villages"? Will they be beheaded?

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