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Imams deny UNC connection...knock Al-Rawi’s ‘un-Islamic’ conduct

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

Leaders of Islamic organisations yesterday said they were never coached by the United National Congress (UNC) to speak out against Opposition Senator Faris Al-Rawi.
Television host Inshan Ishmael had claimed that five Islamic leaders were asked by the UNC to call a news conference last Thursday to speak out against Al-Rawi, over comments he made with respect to his lineage to Prophet Muhammad.
They are: Imam Aazan Piprawala; Imtiaz Mohammed, president of the Islamic Missionaries Guild; 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.
Piprawala was the main spokesman for the group and when contacted yesterday he said there was no UNC influence.
He added that although Al-Rawi presented proof of his lineage, that document has to be verified as one can obtain a lot of information from the internet.
Piprawala said his position remains the same —that Al-Rawi needs to change his conduct in the public domain as it was un-Islamic.
Ishmael claimed that the five leaders were beneficiaries of contracts and had ties to the People’s Partnership Government.
But Piprawala said he has no Government contracts.
Islamic Missionaries Guild (IMG) president Mohammed said Ishmael has a personal vendetta against him.
He said contrary to what Ishmael claimed, the IMG has a full board and a large membership.
Mohammed said he does have Government contracts, but construction is his line of business and he also benefitted from contracts from the previous People’s National Movement (PNM) government.
He said the question needs to be asked as to whether Ishmael ever had Government contracts, including that of URP (Unemployment Relief Programme) and VMCOTT (Vehicle Maintenance Company of Trinidad and Tobago).
And leader of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen, Yasin Abu Bakr, told the Express yesterday that the controversy about lineage was unnecessary.
“I really don’t know what all the hullabaloo is about, mankind have two parents, Adam and Eve, so whatever lineage...we have the same blood even if you are an eskimo,” he said.
However, the UNC youth arm, in a release, criticised Al-Rawi and called on him to stop exploiting his heritage.
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