breaking barriers host: Inshan Ishmael

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'Ishmael making Islam look bad'

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

Members of the Islamic Network have written to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, distancing themselves from Inshan Ishmael, host of the Breaking Barriers programme on the Islamic Broadcasting Network (IBN).

Zahir Nobee, director of the Islamic Network confirmed to the Sunday Express yesterday that the letter, dated May 29 was sent to the Prime Minister.

He said Ishmael, who has been attacking members of Government on his programme, does not speak on behalf of the Muslim community, and his actions and statements were an "insult to Islam".

Nobee said the Islamic Network decided to write the Prime Minister because Ishmael was giving the impression that his criticisms were a refection of the Muslim community.

"He runs an Islamic broadcasting network and what is portrayed is what people would believe how Muslims behave," said Nobee.

"He's making Islam look bad...if you don't agree with something whether it is right or wrong you don't go and insult people in authority in that manner," said Nobee.

Several Imams attached to a number of mosques in the country as well as other Muslim organisations shared Nobee's sentiments as 16 signatures accompanied by officals stamps were attached to support the letter which the Sunday Express obtained.

"For some time now, the Muslim community and members of the public have witnessed continuous comments of insults, derogatory remarks and offensive statements made by the host of the programme 'Breaking Barriers', aired on the IBN Communications, Cable TV channel 8. These disparaging remarks have been made against Ministers, members of Parliament, community leaders and heads of organisations, scholars, Imams and many other respectable and responsible persons of our community," stated the letter.

"While representing the Muslim community, we will like to emphatically state that the conduct of this individual does not represent the teachings of Islam, nor does it represent the views, attitudes or feelings of the Muslim community of Trinidad and Tobago. We wish to also clearly mention that the host of the said 'programme' does not represent any Mosque, well known Muslim Organisation or any section of the  Muslim community in our country," the letter added.

"On behalf of the Muslim community, we wish to state that we do not endorse the conduct, statements, offensive comments and derogotary remarks used by the individual against such personalities who hold the highest offices in our country, as well as others," the letter stated.

"We have supported the many positive initiatives of the Government in the past and will continue to support you in Government in the future...We hope that the behaviour of one member of the communuty does not affect the good relations the government has with the Muslim community," the letter concluded.

Contacted yesterday Ishmael told the Sunday Express: "Because we are giving the Government pressure, it is victimisation to the max."

He noted that major Islamic bodies such as ASJA, TML and the Tackveeyatul Islamic Association (TIA) did not affix thier support to the letter.

The Islamic Network, claimed Ishmael, has been trying to get rid of his programme so they can occupy his space.

"We are not worried, I don't want that brand of Islam that you see in Pakistan coming to our country, I don't wear no long gown, they are trying to mash us up, they are hoping to shut me down and take my place," said Ishmael.

He said that politicians are also part of the plot to silence him.

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