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Say sorry, Rowley

I do not consider the Prime Minister's timely reminder of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley's attitude towards the ancient Indian tradition of bowing to the feet of elders as an "attack" on Dr Rowley but rather a statement of fact.

Rowley's ridicule and contempt for this simple gesture was unbecoming of someone who aspires to the office of prime minister. His subsequent attempt at disguising his instinctive, negative reaction on the basis that she was on official duty as the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago was shallow and feeble.

The Prime Minister and Kamla Persad-Bissessar cannot be divorced from each other. A prime minister is entitled to retain and practise their religious beliefs and traditions. The office is coloured by their cultural identity.

I did not hear Rowley protest when the bias of the PNM (People's National Movement) Cabinet, of which he was a member, revealed itself time and time again as illustrated by the following:

• when former PM Patrick Manning openly practised the principles of his Christian faith. Indeed, it was so overwhelming, it influenced government policy

• the creation of a minister of ecclesiastical affairs, Donna Carter

• the anti-gambling/casino stance

• the special privileges accorded

to spiritual adviser Rev Juliana Pena

• the blunt and insensitive refusal to attend Divali and Indian Arrival Day celebrations

• the granting of four acres in the Heights of Guanapo to Pena's church.

In the eyes of many Indo-Trinidadians, Rowley owes us an apology for an insensitive, cheap and tactless criticism of the Prime Minister for instinctively reaching for the feet of her elder. Until then, I will not be fooled. The PNM's past says it all: for 30 years, they unashamedly ruled without seeing it fit to have a single Hindu minister in the PNM Cabinet. Had such a fate befallen our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters, I wonder if they would rush to embrace.

Michelle Debideen

via e-mail

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