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Ishmael: Islamic leaders got Govt contracts

By tunapuna \\\\\ Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

Broadcaster Inshan Ishmael yesterday claimed the Islamic leaders who took issue with People’s National Movement (PNM) Senator Faris Al-Rawi’s lineage to Prophet Muhammad are all hacks of the United National Congress (UNC).

Five Islamic leaders on Thursday voiced concerns over an exchange in the Senate between Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Al-Rawi regarding his lineage, and called on Al-Rawi to present proof of his ancestral ties.

They are Imam Aazan Piprawala; Imtiaz Mohammed, president of the Islamic Missionaries Guild (IMG); Imam Sheikh Munaf Mohammed of the Caroni Masjid; Imam Rasheed Karim of the Felicity Jamaat; and Brother Aflam Ghanny of the Nur E Islam Jamaat, El Socorro.

At a news conference at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, yesterday, Ishmael, accompanied by Sheik Rafiq Ali and former imam Taulib Searles, said Al-Rawi has nothing to answer and Ramlogan was at fault.

Ishmael claimed a UNC youth officer had called up several members of the Muslim community to speak out against Al-Rawi’s association to Prophet Muhammad.

He provided a name and number of a person, Hisham Muhammed, whom he said can verify this.

The Express contacted Muhammed, who said he was not directly contacted by a UNC official, but was given the message though another person, who said it came from the UNC.

Ishmael said the news conference held by the five Islamic leaders was mobilised by the UNC. “I want to make it categorically clear that that press conference was called by the Government and not by members of the Muslim community,” said Ishmael.

Ishmael said Mohammed was chairman of the IMG, which has no members and no board and was also a recipient of Government contracts. He said Karim had two CEPEP contracts.

He said Priprawala serves in the Ministry of Community Development.

“If we judge from the persons present, we would see that 90 per cent of them are reci­pients of Government contracts,” he added.

Ishmael said in every religion under the Abrahamic faith, believers can say they are descendants of Adam or a prophet.

“When someone says they are a descendant in the broad sense, what was said by the Senator (Al-Rawi) was indeed fact.”

Ishmael trained his guns on Ramlogan, whom he said made a mockery of Islam by asking Al-Rawi whether he should bow to him since he was a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

Ishmael reiterated his call for the Prime Minister to remove the Attorney General from office. He further took issue with the behaviour of other Government senators, as he claimed Senator Raziah Ahmed was laughing when the comments were made in the Senate and the Senate President had a “smirk” on his face.

Al-Rawi also blamed the Attorney Gene­ral for creating this issue.

Speaking to the media at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s on Thursday, Al-Rawi also blamed Ramlogan for causing a controversy. He said it was “convenient” the Islamic leaders could mobilse themselves to criticise him and not seek to question him directly, or ask for clarification and proof.

“The Attorney General cannot hide behind what I believe to be a contrived, paid-for event... to seek to mask the attack that I believe he made against me in condemning Islam, my heritage, etc... it seems awfully convenient that people can mobilise themselves today and could not have even contacted me,” said Al-Rawi.

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