Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 15th 2017 Contents A14 news
guardian.co.tt Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Pupils of Sacred Heart Girls' RC School join hands during their annual walkathon titled Be The Change at
the Queen's Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, on Sunday. PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO
Traditional and independent
Muslim groups which have started
meeting Government on proposed
anti-terrorism amendments have
expressed views for and against it---
including that amendments involve
religious and racial profiling.
That particular view, according to
a release from the Muslims of T&T
(MOTT) was expressed by MOTT,
one of several groups which attended
a meeting last week Friday on the pro-
posed legislation with Attorney General
Also discussed was legislation out-
lawing child marriages.
MOTT PRO, Imtiaz Mohammed,
said the organisation had started raising
concerns on the legislation immedi-
ately after it was announced recently.
MOTT represents over 20 independent
Jamaahs and groups.
Hafeez Ali, of the recently formed
Muslims Roundtable, representing
traditional mosques---also issued a
statement on the meeting with the AG.
Other groups at the meeting were the
National Muslim Women's Organisa-
tion of T&T (represented by Shaleeza
Khan), Islamic Resource Society (Kwesi
Atib), Trinidad Muslim League (Farz
Khan), Islamic Broadcasting Network
and Muslim Social/Cultural Founda-
tion (Inshan Ishmael).
Mohammed said, "Our represent-
atives were concerned the legislation
would affect Muslims' freedoms grant-
ed under the Constitution including
freedom of movement, choice, asso-
ciation, privacy, communication etc.
"We said the bill is harsh and offen-
sive and is racial and religious profiling.
It could divide T&T along race and re-
ligion. Every Muslim may be perceived
as a terrorist if this becomes law in its
present form. It exposes a Muslim to
risk by placing restrictions on his free-
Mohammed added, "The AG respect-
ed our views. He's willing to meet us
and our lawyers in the near future to
further discuss it. We accepted his
Khan, head of the Muslim Round-
table said, "We aren't sympathetic to
people choosing to jeopardise their lives
and T&T's security by engaging in ter-
rorist activity directly or indirectly. We
commended the AG and Government
for this legislation.
"The amendments are from an
Islamic perspective, generally good
as they seek to maintain social order
and protect society from the evil of
those who would want to perpetrate
terrorist acts. However there are some
aspects that could bring harm. We're
requesting measures be added to avoid/
minimise that," he said.
Khan said, "The AG said individuals'
rights aren't being removed therefore
there's no need for a special majority
to pass the amendments.
"He said this is part of larger legis-
lation required to be in sync with the
international community's anti-terror-
ism fight and non-compliance isn't an
option as it would mean blacklisting
" He said legislation doesn't restrict
freedom of movement as a permit from
the Police Commissioner is required to
travel to designated areas. He indicated
amendments 'protect individuals who
travel or are caught up in a declared
zone and allows Government to come
to their assistance.'"
Khan added, "He said legislation
will state what would be reasonable
for someone to go to the declared zone
(humanitarian, study, job and more.)
"The AG agreed there should be
specifics where a body corporate/
managing director/other officials has
been convicted of an offence since the
legislation may penalise everyone in an
organisation who may not have known/
supported the actions of one official.
"He also agreed to ask his team to
include protection against abuse of the
legislation by police/officials."
Khan said the AG assured T&T and
no other state would declare a designat-
ed zone, and any organisation deemed
as terrorist groups.
CHANGING LIVES ONE STEP AT A TIME
AG meet on
AG promises to
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has
promised to try and expedite legislation
regarding refugees, says Roundtable
On the Marriage Bill, Khan said, "Islam-
ic law states marriage should be based
on maturity. While some may consider
physical maturity to be the onset of pu-
berty, this is certainly not the criteria to be
used for psychological maturity. Muslims
should have no objection in making the
marriage age 18. However, the exception
clause is absolutely necessary in this type
of legislation. Eg pregnancy.
"We suggest, insert the clause with
strict conditions such as approval by a
judge/minister/ senior counsellor in So-
cial Welfare/Ministry. Persons should also
pass a test in pre-marital counselling, with
the male showing ability to properly main-
tain a spouse.
"There could be a Certificate of Matu-
rity determined by a psychologist and a
psychiatrist certificate verifying no mental
Khan said the AG said he's submitted
three options to Cabinet "but faces strong
resistance at the Cabinet. He promised to
make another attempt."
Khan added, "We feel all marriage of-
ficers should be trained in counselling.
Also, what is being done to protect the
15,000 teenagers that were impregnated
out of marriage in the last eight years and
continuing? We should make parenting
skills training mandatory for everyone
who becomes pregnant." - Gail Alexander.
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