Opposition leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar says T&T does not have a problem of religious intolerance or religious hate, but modern Trinidad and Tobago has a crime problem.
She made the comment in response to recent reports of crime committed at Hindu temples.
In a release on Wednesday, Persad-Bissessar said: “Recently, there have been crimes at some Hindu temples, but these must not be viewed in isolation as an attack on the Hindu community. In July this year, the Church of the Assumption parish office at Maraval was broken into, and previously, there were robberies or vandalism at the Mt St Benedict monastery, San Rafael RC church, St Francis of Assisi RC church and the Claxton Bay SDA church, among others. We have had robberies or vandalism at mosques in Sangre Grande, Carapo, and Tableland to list a few.”
She said the fact is that none of these robberies or acts of vandalism have been proven to be committed due to religious intolerance or hate. Some of these were crimes committed by drug addicts, mentally disturbed persons, mischief makers, or petty thieves.
Persad-Bissessar noted that some acts of vandalism have turned out to be fuelled by disputes within the congregation or community, land disputes, noise complaints, bad parking issues, and even petty family quarrels. Places of worship are often soft targets due to the lack of physical security and the belief by opportunistic criminals that there may be valuable alms and offerings on the premises.
“Ours is a country where temples, mosques and churches are situated next to each other, sharing carparks, service facilities and recreational spaces. We all celebrate and partake in each other’s religious festivals and celebrations across any political, ethnic, race or social class lines.
Therefore, it is dangerous to our society’s peace and civil stability when intellectually lazy allegations of hate crimes and religious intolerance are thrown out, without an iota of supporting evidence,” she said.
“While there is a violent crime crisis ongoing, modern Trinidad and Tobago is NOT a society of religious intolerance or religious hate, and I call on citizens to categorically reject those wicked and provocative suggestions.”
The opposition leader said, “Citizens must immediately move to stop this unwarranted and divisive theme from gaining any traction by cooperating with the TTPS to bring these petty thieves and vandals to justice.