• 11 JUN 2018

Statement by Prime Minister Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley

Whilst I am reluctant to respond to the predictable UNC activists and the voices of any self-serving extremist fringe who seek opportunity and benefit by attempting to stir up ethnic and religious discord in our country, I am duty bound to respond so as to prevent any harmful misrepresentation of any statements made by me or any action taken by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

All those who listened to my comment about the discovery of lethal weapons and ammunition at a mosque last week would have heard me make two specific points:

1) That whenever credible information about arms, ammunition or lawlessness in general, come to the attention of the Security Services of T&T these agencies and officers are duty bound to intervene, regardless of where the items are sequestered or who is involved. I clearly stated that where places of worship are involved it matters not whether they belong to any particular religion, the law applies, equally, to all denominations

2.) I also referenced the uninformed, reckless and unwarranted conclusions of a few spokespersons who, last Carnival, after a Security exercise was triggered, based on very credible information, such voices accused the state of being anti- Muslim and of unlawfully persecuting persons because of their religious persuasion.

The recent weapons find at a Munroe Road Mosque was mentioned purely in the context that there may be times when this kind of action of a few will and must involve an intervention of the State Security Services, in the interest and security of all and must not therefore be seen or wrongfully interpreted as an attack on a religious group or the persecution of the vast majority of members of that religion who are by and large peaceful, law- abiding citizens.  The recent news item simply underscores the point that it is understandable that there may be instances where law enforcement may receive information of unacceptable, unlawful conduct even at a place of worship.

I am confident that these reasonable and clear positions would have been received by the right thinking citizens of all persuasions, religious or otherwise and that the people of this country will roundly reject all attempts to politicize and misrepresent necessary law enforcement as religious persecution.

With respect to these vulnerabilities of our society being utilized for nefarious or political advancement, such endeavors should be roundly condemned, not just by the Government but by all facets of the national leadership of our country.

To do otherwise is to gamble with our cherished stability and a rejection of our commitment that in this land “every creed and race” will find an equal place, to live in peace, harmony and prosperity.

As Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago I want to give the reassurance to all members of the Muslim community, particularly at this season of Ramadan, that as a major component of this nation they can look forward to nothing other than brotherly love as we all commit to living together in peace and harmony.