Thursday 23rd June 2005

 
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A bid to demonise

The first phase in the big legal battle over the Trinity Cross as the nation’s highest award ended in the San Fernando High Court last week. Presiding judge Peter Jamadar will deliver his written judgment at a later date.

But Justice Jamadar, during the course of the hearing, did acknowledge that the San Fernando High Court might not be the final court where legal objections to the Trinity Cross will be ventilated.

Dr Fenton Ramsahoye, QC, who represented the Maha Sabha, also said other appellate courts may be drawn into the final decision.

And attorney John Horan, who flew in from London to represent the Islamic Relief Centre, did announce intention to involve international human rights agencies and even the United Nations.

Dr Ramsahoye, lawyer Anand Ramlogan and Mr Horan laid out a call for the removal of the Trinity Cross. Senior Counsel Russell Martineau and lawyer Debra Peake defended the right of the State to retain the Trinity Cross as the nation’s highest award.

The Catholic Church and a number of other established churches have raised no objection to the removal of the Trinity Cross. But there are some spokesmen who insist on imposing their ill-informed views on the leadership of their church.

His Grace Archbishop Edward Gilbert, who is a foreigner (US citizen), is often compared to deceased Archbishop Pantin who was locally born.

In an article written by Marion O’Callaghan in the Newsday of June 13, a headline reads: “A fragile Catholic Church.” Marion attempts to imply that the six heads of churches were manipulated to visit Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday at the Maximum Security Prison at Golden Grove.

This self-acclaimed expert on the history of India and other lands put a racial spin on the visit by myself, Haji Noble Khan, Archbishop Gilbert, Baba Sam Phills, Archbishop Aemilius Marrain and Rev Cyril Paul, chairman of the Inter-Religious Organisation. Marion wrote:

“Now one expects Shri Sat Maharaj to be anointing Panday. Panday’s UNC is to a large extent that Hindu party began by Bhadase Maraj, Sat’s father-in-law and the architect of a revised Maha Sabha.

“There is no surprise to find the Right Rev Cyril Paul there... Presbyterians have an almost Indian base.

“Brother Noble Khan does not surprise us with his presence. Indian Muslims have increasingly been pushed into declaring their Indianness.”

And Marion dismisses the Orisha and Shouter Baptists as people who have been “wooed by Hindus as being indigenous African religions as against Christianity, and leaders of both in their quest for legitimacy are easily manipulated.”

She questions Archbishop Gilbert’s presence with these religious leaders and claims that “The Catholic Church not only spans every ethnic group in the country, it is still the major religion of those blacks Hindus can’t marry.”

The faces of Catholic Church congregations tell a different story.

Marion O’Callaghan has not told her readers of the destruction done by the Aztec civilisation of South America. Nor does she mention how the Catholic colonial conquerors demolished the Mayas of Central America.

This woman’s article attempts to demonise Hinduism and sanitise the colonial conquering religions. The young generation should know that at one time only Catholics could be citizens of Trinidad.

In the Royal Cedar of Colonisation, the King of Spain declared:

“All foreigners, the subjects of powers and nations in alliance with me, who are desirous of establishing themselves, or who are already settled in the said island of Trinidad, shall sufficiently prove to the government thereof, that they are of the Roman Catholic persuasion, without which they shall not be allowed.”

Neither Marion O’Callaghan nor any other power can alter the fact that Trinidad is now a multireligious, multicultural and multiracial society.

SATNARAYAN MAHARAJ is the Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha

 

 

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