T&T: Muslims fear backlash

T&T Newsday:-  MUSLIM clerics are condemning a male bandit who put a niqab (a piece of clothing that covers the face and is worn by a some Muslim women as an interpretation of the hijab) to mask his identity as he robbed a jewellery store. The spiritual leaders said it is more disrespectful, especially when they are observing the holy month of Ramadhan.

They are also fearing repercussions after a video, showing the bandit and his accomplice at the jewellery store at the Gasparillo Mall on Monday, was shared on social media.

Organisational Head of the Islamic Front Umar Abdullah said he fears that Muslim women would now become the subject of random stop-and-search exercises by the police, suspicious of what they may be concealing under their dresses.

“It was disrespectful, it shows a lack of religious tolerance and that the bandits were not mindful of the serious repercussion this could have on the Muslim community,” Abdullah said.

The video shows the men, one in a coverall used by people in health and safety and in the energy industry, and the other in a black dress with a white lining peeping under and a niqab covering the arms and upper chest area. A bandana is also used to cover parts of the nose and mouth.

CCTV cameras captured the two looking at the jewellery in the glass showcases before the man in coverall used a wrench to smash the showcases while the one in the niqab pulled out a gun which he pointed at the workers. The men cleared out the showcases and escaped in a waiting car with an undisclosed amount of gold, diamond and other precious stones.

Commenting on the brazen act, Abdullah questioned, “How would the police and national security view the wearing of these types of clothing by our Muslim women, our Muslim sisters? Because if you dress like this to commit a crime, it may lead the police to think or act in a particular way.

“I pray it would not reach to this state in our country where Muslim women would have to undergo such scrutiny, where they would be subjected to stop and searches.”

MP for Tabaquite, Dr Surujrattan Rambachan said he was thankful no one was physically injured.

“But this assault by fearless criminals on the hard-working business community is too much to stomach, as the bandits fired shots inside the store. He recalled a similar incident at a jewellery store in San Fernando where the security guard was injured.

Rambachan called for more police foot patrols in the business district of Gasparillo and said he was disturbed to have been told that the Gasparillo police station, which is nearby, did not have a vehicle to respond swiftly while the robbery was in progress.

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