Wednesday 19th April, 2006

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Be ready to fight fundamentalism

Over the last few weeks the press has carried news about the conversion to Christianity of one Rahaman of Afghanistan.

Rahaman was jailed and put on trial. His case was dismissed and he was freed from prison because he was deemed mentally unstable. Had it not been for the international attention and the pressure of external leader, Rahaman would in all certainty have been executed.

Exile seems to be the fate of Rahaman. Still, mullahs are calling for his death.

This situation is revealing. Even though Afghanistan has been liberated from the hold of Taliban rule and Pakistan influence, fundamentalist Islam is still very strong.

There is an absence of what we in liberal-democratic societies take for granted. Thus, Afghanistan is on the path of democratic reform but important pillars of any democratic society pertaining to fundamental freedoms and rights of the individual do not seem to exist.

Hence the jailing and the call for the death penalty for what we consider to be a personal matter of one’s religious belief.

What has taken place in Afghanistan is consistent with the Qur’an and the hadis. Chapter 5:36 of the Qur’an is used to justify the Islamic position of conversion.

In the hadis, there is the account of eight men who had accepted Islam but returned to their original faith. The Prophet Muhammad had them tracked down. When they were brought before him “he got their hands cut off, and their feet and put out their eyes and threw them on the stony ground until they died.”

As Ram Swarup wrote in his Understanding Islam Through Hadis Religious Faith or Fanaticism, “One can accept Islam freely, but one cannot give it up with the same freedom. The punishment for apostasy—giving up Islam—is death.”

Exclusive theologies and ideologies invariably implement this type of intolerant edict.

Islamic cultural imperialism in Afghanistan has certainly achieved a thorough process.

A few hundred years ago Afghanistan was a Hindu/Bhuddist area and in ancient times was part of the Indus/Harrapan civilisation. As in Arabia and other Islamic states, this preIslamic period is viewed as an age of darkness—there is even the murder of history.

We in Trinidad must be on our guard, ready to combat these expressions of fundamentalism. The recent statement by Sunni organisations against the Shiite festival of Hosay can be viewed as bordering on this.

Khastra Singh


Referendum aims to alert citizens

Marina Hart in an April 5 (“Ideas needed, not referendum”) letter gives an unjustified slant to the proposed Keith Noel Committee citizens referendum.

The referendum is put forward by the Keith Noel 136 Committee to alert the citizens of their civic duties, that is, to call their parliamentary representatives to be accountable to the people who put them into office.

With the past and present representation it is understandable to see why Hart would want the public to find solutions as the representatives are void of ideas.

If the present leaders on both sides of the House do not even listen to their fellow MPs, and where it is that the public is told in no uncertain manner that Cabinet’s decisions will be carried out regardless of contrary opinion of any Tom, Dick or Harry, it is a futile mission to suggest solutions to our present issues.

It is evident that in her final paragraph Hart has resolved her own concerns by calling for better leadership. We therefore hope that Hart and other concerned citizens would come on board and support the country’s first referendum on crime, poverty and leadership.

Keith Noel Committee


Muslimeen owe more than $32m

The Government says it is going after the assets of the Muslimeen and its members for the $32 million in damages to state buildings.

Are we to suddenly believe that after giving this notorious group state contracts (NHA), control of the gang-ridden URP and Cepep and hundreds of millions of dollars in aggregate that it now wants to collect a mere $32 million?

The newspapers and TV have constantly exposed the hundreds of millions of dollars lost over a three-year period to people the same media identified as Muslimeen. We were told of members driving luxury cars.

Added to that, the Government has publicly admitted it lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from illegal mining.

Yet after a couple of truckers were arrested and charged $100 each, the entire matter has been dropped as though it never existed, even by the media.

What has happened to the investigations that were being undertaken by the Ministry of National Security? And what has happened to the hundreds of millions?

If, as was being said by many, it was indeed the Muslimeen or others, then the State should be going after those funds rather that the mere $32 million.

Was there a deal to dole out hundreds of millions of state dollars to this gang in order to facilitate them with the funds to repay the State?

And isn’t it strange that our most rabble-rousing group has suddenly become quiet? I don’t believe it’s too late to go after these hundreds of millions.

It is also strange that PM Manning could not bring in foreign assistance (US and UK) before now. What took the Government so long? Were there not solutions aplenty from all quarters including New York’s Rudy Giuliani?

It was only after Muslimeen leader Abu Bakr was behind bars did we learn about foreign police help.

The Government’s timing surely suggests the desire to show the international community that there was no complicity between the State and gangs in T&T.

Will the Yardies’ terms of reference allow them to investigate the rape of our treasury or just to work with the special anti-crime unit? It is convenient that they are restricted to anti-crime measures, judging from the unit they are attached to, under the leadership of Brigadier Joseph and Minister Martin Joseph, and not under the far-reaching authority of the CoP.

Did someone say the Opposition was hoodwinked again into supporting the new government police authority?

J Bascombe


Focus on issues, not Dookeran

No, PNM executive, Winston Dookeran does not want to change the national watchwords. He just wants us to focus on truth, justice and freedom.

I am sure poor Sean Luke would like to know the truth behind his brutal killing and that justice will be served. As well as freedom for other children from all crime.

Please, PNM, focus on the real issues. Dookeran simply made a suggestion for discussion. Contrast this with PM Manning’s summary decision to place the coat of arms on his car.

Devika Deoraj


Parenting is serious business

At a recent executive meeting of the National Muslim Women’s Organisation, members expressed their deep sense of sorrow and horror at the recent killing of Sean Luke.

As mothers, our hearts go out to Pauline Lumfai at the brutal manner in which her “little angel” was murdered. Our one consolation is that he is free from suffering, with his creator in paradise.

Our members also viewed with concern the fact that two teenagers have been charged with the murder. We urge parents to take the responsibility of parenthood seriously. Always be there for your children so that they can confide in you with their problems. Do not be strangers to your children. Rather, be their friends and confidants.

We continue to pray for the safety and security of all people in this beloved country of ours.

Rose Mohammed


National Muslim Women’s Organisation

Mastana host victim of politics?

It is a great joy and relief to see Mastana Bahar, the people’s programme, back on the air on channel 4.

While Sardar is an excellent host, it is worrying as to why Jamal is no longer the host. The Ministry of Culture can perhaps answer this question.

Hopefully it is not a case of victimisation as Jamal is associated with a political entity opposed to the machinations and destructive agenda of the PNM.

If this is the case it will be even more disgusting when one considers that his sister Nafeesa is a deputy leader of the party. There is truth in the adage: great is the PNM and it shall prevail after all.

Deepa Birjal

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