Stop spying on muslims

ASKING local muslim organisations to help find ‘muslim’ terrorists in Trinidad, is like telling the Palestines to give up their lands to Israel.

So said Imtiaz Mohammed who heads the Islamic Missionaries Guild (IMG) in commenting on Friday’s meeting between mainstream muslim organisations, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and officials of the United States Embassy. Saying that such organisations could not quite ascertain who and for what people travel abroad, especially to the list of so-called Donald Trump banned countries, Mohammed described as dangerous the ‘task’ given to the organisations. If it is true that muslim organisations were asked to help find who the terrorists are, he added, then it is a dangerous thing to do. “Are they asking muslim organisations to conduct espionage or spy operations for which they, but the security forces only, have the resources to do?,” Mohammed asked.

The IMG’s president said that he must warn the heads of those muslim organisations not to take on such a task, least they fall into error of misjudging their own muslim brothers and sisters. Muslim organisations do not have the resources to engage in the kind of activity that the United States embassy, and the minister, seem to want them to do – that is to tell them (US embassy/minister) who are people travelling to countries such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and Afganistan.

The muslim organisations represented at the round-table discussion were the Anjuman Sunnat-ul-Jamaat Association, National Muslim Women Organisations of Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad Muslim League, National Islamic Counselling Services, Islamic Resource Society. Mohammed’s IMG was not invited, but he said that such round-table discussions had been taking place with the United States embassy in Port-of-Spain for some time.

His stand on the issue, he said, is that the US embassy and by extension the National Security minister, is using leaders of muslim groups to gather intelligence about activities of what they might deem to be suspicious.

“That to me is dangerous. It is a matter for the security agencies to gather intelligence because they have the resources to do so whereby their information can be scientifically tested and confirmed.

The Imams and muslim leaders cannot do such,” Mohammed said.

The IMG is concerned that the various muslim leaders did not seize the opportunity to complain to US Embassy officials about the unfair treatment meted out to their fellow muslims in Trinidad, whose visas have been revoked. He referred to a couple who travelled to Miami recently and who had a baby with them, but upon arrival, were detained and their visas revoked. They were sent back to Trinidad the following day.

Mohammed said, “Did these leaders raise with the embassy the many muslims who have been called in by the embassy and had their visas cancelled? Among them are many business people and it is being done without giving reasons. Imagine you are having round table discussions and you are not bringing up these things.” Mohammed pointed out as well the issue of the land-grabbing in Palestine for the past 60 years, he said, and not a muslim leader could have raised that as an issue as well.

On Saturday while addressing a march against crime in Terchier Village, Point Fortin, minister Dillon told Newsday that it was his view that a very small group of muslims who have not conformed to the faith of Islam and have erred. Dillon said, “There is a small minority of muslims who have gone against their faith of Islam and that is what the leaders have said. We cannot put everyone in the same bucket. So, we reach out to those who believe they are true to their faith. The muslim groups wanted to see me.

I did not plan the meeting; I met with those who wanted to see me, so the muslim body came together.”



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