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We've never gotten anything

Bakr reacts as PM donates $.35m to TML:

By Keino Swamber keino.swamber@trinidadexpress.com

Leader of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen Yasin Abu Bakr is adopting a "wait and see" attitude to the announcement by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that $5,000 would be presented to each mosque in Trinidad to assist with Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations.

However, he is not very optimistic that his organisation will receive any money whatsoever from the Government.

Persad-Bissessar, at an Eid dinner hosted in her honour at the Trinidad Muslim League (TML) Mosque in St Joseph on Friday, presented a cheque in the sum of $350,000 to TML's secretary-general Dr Nasser Mustapha.

She said other "large Muslim organisations in the country", including the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association (ASJA) of Trinidad and Tobago and the Tackveeyatul Islamic Association (TIA) would receive similar donations.

In a telephone interview with the Express on Sunday, Bakr said his organisation has never been the recipient of any such donation.

"I would have to (wait to) find out," Bakr said.

"We have never gotten anything. I saw that she gave $350,000 to TML last year, and also this year she gave TML $350,000. We have seven mosques, (whereas) TML only has three. We have five schools and TML has two.

"All TML teachers are being paid by the Government. All of them. We have not gotten one single dime from the Government, although if you compare our results every year, including this year, with TML, you will see that we have better results in the SEA than TML. A lot of our children got their first choices and we have never, since 1982, been given one single cent."

Bakr said they were promised funding by the People's Partnership Government to assist with the running of their schools. In July, senior Jamaat member Lorris Ballack called on Government to honour its promise.

Ballack, who led a protest by pupils and teachers in February, was given the assurance then, by Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh, that a note would be taken to Cabinet to discuss whether State grants, given to other denominational schools, would also be given to the Jamaat's schools at Mucurapo.

Abu Bakr said, to date, no assistance has been forthcoming.

"That is wrong in every context because we pay taxes like everybody else. More than that, this school is not a Government school. They didn't build this. They built schools for ASJA and TML and for everybody else. They have never built any schools for us.

"But the media would not report that. What can I say, we don't own any media. (This is) one group in the society which does not own any media. Every single other group in this society has a media. They have a radio station (and) they have TV station. The only station we have is the police station."

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