(Trinidad Guardian) The Anjuman Sunnat-ul-Jamaat Association (ASJA) believes the murder of Haniff Mohammed on Friday at the Junon Street Mosque, California is an isolated incident and is not representative of a larger threat to the Muslim community.
In a release, ASJA’s Public Relations Officer, Imam Raffaic Mohammed quoted from the Qur’an as he extended condolences to Mohammed’s family and urged them to remain steadfast in their faith.
Mohammed, 56, a contractor and businessman, was chased and gunned down inside the mosque as he sought refuge from his attackers.
Investigators were up to yesterday trying to ascertain a motive for the death of the father of nine who lived at Couva.
Imam Raffaic said, “This unfortunate incident is being viewed as an isolated one and not an attack in any way on the Muslim community.”
Confirming members had been traumatised following the killing which occurred around 1.30 pm immediately after Friday Jumu’ah, the Imam said Salah and Taraweeh had been conducted at the mosque hours after the incident.
Salah—also called salat and namaz—is one of the Five Pillars in the faith of Islam and an obligatory religious duty for every Muslim.
It is a physical, mental, and spiritual act of worship that is observed five times every day at prescribed times.
Taraweeh refers to extra prayers performed by Sunni Muslims at night, after Isha prayer during the holy month of Ramadhan.
Local Muslims are currently observing the hold month of Ramadan.
Imam Raffaic said daily Iftars—the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset—were set to resume today, “Albeit under these trying circumstances.”
President of the Islamic Missionaries Guild and PRO, Concerned Muslims of T&T—Imitiaz Mohammed described the brutal murder as one which sent shockwaves through the Muslim community.
Speaking at Mosque Street, Caroni yesterday, Mohammed (I) said following discussions with the heads of other masjids, concerns had arisen that crime was now beyond the reach of the authorities and more was needed to get it under control.
He said, “Having looked at what took place, we are concerned that the crime situation in this country is now beyond control. The police are trying their best but to no avail.”
Claiming that citizens in T&T were now under siege by the criminals, he said, “We would like to see some kind of action in a positive way that can really stem this amount of murders that is taking place daily.”
Asked if Muslim leaders would now move to implement their own security measures as public confidence in the TTPS continued to decline, Mohammed (I) referred to the meeting in March with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to discuss issues affecting them.
He said, “The PM’s response wasn’t really one which put any kind of confidence or comfort into the Muslim community. This has happened now and again, it has traumatised a whole community.”
However, he acknowledged it was time for Muslim leaders in T&T, “To come together and put some kind of security measures in place as far as the mosques are concerned because I do not think we can really rely on the TTPS to protect the people and mosques twenty-four seven.”
Mohammed (I) said there were various times people went to pray.
Following Friday’s killing, some members of the Junon Street Mosque stayed away yesterday, and Mohammed (I) is demanding interim measures be introduced, at least during the month of Ramadan to ensure the safety of all Muslims as they pray.
Offering some advice to the Government, he said, “I think it is time they reconsider community policing because I believe they can help in cases like this.”
Mohammed (I) said the criminal element had clearly demonstrated its’ lack of respect for the law enforcement community and even places of worship.
Secretary, Masjid-ul-Muttaqeen, Cunupia, Shiraz Ali described it as an unfortunate incident.
He said, “When we look at the international powers of the world, there is absolutely no respect for places of worship.”
Referring to recent incidents in India, Sri Lanka, China, and New Zealand, Ali said respect for human life continued to be diminished daily.
He said, “Human beings are most vulnerable when they go to their respective place of worship. They are basically arms down…nobody is thinking about fighting so you will catch a person in a condition where he is not expecting a fight because he is in communion with his Lord…but history shows it is how it is.”