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Indian Muslims take a side

Ambassador to Caricom Kamaluddin Mohammed, right, prays with leaders of various Muslim organisations, from left, Imam Haj Wajid Ali, ASJA; Rafeek Mohammed, TIA; and Noble Khan, TML, after yesterday's news conference in Barataria.

November 30, 2000
By A. H. Hotep

MUSLIM leaders are incensed over Opposition Leader Patrick Manning's statement that Prime Minister Basdeo Panday was offending Muslims by calling the election during Ramadan, their holy month of fasting.

In addition, they want him to apologise.

At a press conference held yesterday in Barataria, the leaders accused Manning of being insensitive, saying he was using the holy month for "political mileage".

Imam Haji Wajid Ali, representative from the Anjuman Sunnat-Ul-Jamaat Association (ASJA), said: "There is nothing wrong with a Muslim placing his vote within the month of Ramadan.

Several of the Muslim leaders at yesterday's meeting called for a public apology from Manning for his "political innuendoes".

If some Muslims complain about the timing of the elections and they took the issue to the Opposition Leader then it is quite legitimate for him to raise their concern.

These front line Muslims are giving the impression that they are the spokesmen for all Muslims, and if that is accepted, they are responsible for the 1990 coup, carried out by Muslims.

They really cannot have their cake and eat it.

It is obvious that a section of Indian Muslims are supporters of the UNC and is trying to galvanize the Muslim support for that party.

Everyone knows that Kamaluddin Mohammed was a former longstanding member of the Opposition PNM and has changed to the ruling UNC following their coming into government. He is a Muslim and was once a strong critic of the ruling UNC.

He has, over the years amassed a strong following among the Indian Muslim community who saw him as their voice in the former ruling PNM. By putting his face in the front line at this time, he is attempting to galvanize the Indian Muslims behind the ruling UNC. We are clearly seeing their race first policy.

Political Leaders should remember the constant protests of these Indian Muslims and Hindus about the Trinity Cross, which is and has always been the country's highest national award. This award remained from the legacy of the dominance of Christianity. Before the run up to the last general election in 1995, these people were protesting this award and wanted it changed to reflect the diverse religious groups. However, they have been silent during the five years of this Indian lead UNC government.

Even during the tremendous flooding that is taking place at this time in the country in the face of the ruling government's propaganda that they have fixed roads and built bridges so they deserve another term, these Indian UNC supporters who are experiencing losses, are simply claiming that the disaster is an act of God.

When PNM and NAR were in government, they used to claim that the floods were because of the negligence of the government. Today, the floods are simply acts of God.

What we are seeing is the racism behind all these institutions that masquerade as religious institutions that could only see the wrongs during other administrations but all is well today with this extremely corrupt UNC government.


Kamaluddin Mohammed has clearly stood on the side of Indians who make the claim that he should have been made Prime Minister following the death of Eric Williams. His support for the UNC in spite of their many flaws shows that he remains bitter.

Of course, those of us who understood Eric Williams knew that he kept Kamal close to appease the Indians and Kamal knew that as well. He became a leader of sorts of the Indian Muslims and amassed influence and money.

His support for Basdeo Panday shows that the role he played during the Eric Williams era is the same role he is willing to play today. It also shows it is the only role he is capable of playing.

To fanatical Indians he is a traitor who did well for himself under Eric Williams. To African people, he is an opportunist who was in office to advance himself and his family, but remained racist and ungrateful to the core.

He is really an unhappy man today realizing that his only chance to become Prime Minister was by default when Eric Williams died. He could not get there on his own strength commanding popular support and facing the polls. It may be painful for him living with that feeling of impotence.

Kamal: I still control the Muslim vote

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