Black Immigrant Daily News
PRAYERS: Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar prays during Iftar (breaking of the day’s fast for Ramadan) at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation office on Saturday. PHOTO COURTESY OFFICE OF THE OPPOSITION LEADER –
THE Opposition Leader is promising to bring Trini women and children – languishing for years in refugee camps in Syria – back home when the UNC forms the next government.
The women and children were left behind by Trini men who were killed while fighting with terrorist group ISIS. In some cases, these women and children were tricked into leaving their homes in TT.
In an address on Saturday at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation offices, where she was the guest of honour at an Iftar (meal taken by Muslims at sundown to break the daily fast during Ramadan), Persad-Bissessar also said the UNC has noted an increase in discrimination and persecution against Muslims.
She promised the party will form a working group to meet with stakeholders in the Muslim community to address these issues.
In paying tribute to the important contributions of the Muslim community to national development, she however warned: “I have seen increasing discrimination against TT Muslims when it comes to accessing travel visas and their treatment at airports.
“The sad fact is that Muslims are being rejected for visas simply because of their faith. This is severely affecting their businesses, educational opportunities, family relationships and mental well-being.”
She claimed that some Muslims who had visas were turned back from the airport after having these visas cancelled unknowingly to them.
She said the UNC will bring this matter to the attention of the parliament and embassies in TT. “The Islamophobia seen in many western countries cannot be allowed to take root here. I give the commitment that we will take up this issue.”
On the issue of Trinis in Syria, she said, “at the end of the day, these are our citizens and we must bring them home. These are women and children and they should not be left to suffer in unlivable conditions.”
She said it was difficult not to see the hypocrisy when Muslims are persecuted and condemned because they went to Syria, while at the same time people are being celebrated and encouraged to go to Ukraine to fight.
“This hypocrisy is also seen in the grave concern shown for Ukraine, which I have no issue with, but the total disregard for the people and state of Palestine.
“Since May 2021, I spoke about the horrific treatment of the Palestinian people and I call on Muslims to let their voices be heard…that Palestine must be freed from illegal occupation.”
The Palestine region in the Middle East is also known as the Holy Land and is held sacred among Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Since the 20th century, it has been the object of conflicting claims by both Jewish and Arab national movements and this conflict has led to violence and war. At present, Israel claims rights to the West Bank.
Persad-Bissessar also claimed there was an increase in the misuse of anti-terrorism and financial laws to target Muslims.
“When these pieces of legislation were passed, they were intended to go after criminal conduct. However, these pieces of legislation are being selectively enforced and misused to target Muslims and Muslim organisations seeking to send aid and assistance to families and aid groups abroad,” she said.
She said the targeting of Muslims with legislation must be condemned and stopped.
Of the intention by the UNC to form a working group, Persad-Bissessar said she will lead the group which will organise meetings with all stakeholders in the Muslim community who are willing to address the issues.
“As soon as Ramadan is over, we will begin these meetings. It is time for clichéd rhetoric to cease and for us to work together to protect our Muslim community.”
The Siparia MP urged all to commit to act to address the discriminatory issues affecting the Muslim community. She also wished that the holy month of Ramadan will bring communities closer together and strengthen bonds of friendship.