Debate has arisen on this after a young female at Piarco Airport last Friday, was seen wearing a jacket with a large logo, similar to the logo used by the terror network Islamic State (Isis).
The girl was among relatives at Piarco airport, last Friday, welcoming the five T&T men who returned from Venezuela.
The men, Dominic Pitilal, Wade Charles, Asim Luqman, Andre Battersby and Leslie Daisley were detained in Venezuela in 2014, on suspicion of terrorism. Charges were changed a few months ago to intent to commit espionage and commit a crime. They were found guilty. Time already served was factored into sentence.
Among those welcoming them back, was the girl who was seen wearing a black “hoodie”(jacket). She was seen going to greet the first of the men, said to be Asim Luqman. An older woman went to hug him. The girl followed her.
Muslim community attorney Nafeesa Mohammed, who defended the girl, claimed she was Luqman’s daughter.
Emblazoned on the back of the girl’s jacket were large Islamic sayings in Arabic, and beneath, a circle with more Arabic writing.
The design was similar to Isis’ flag logo which also has Arabic writing—“There is no god but Allah [God]. Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.” The phrase is a declaration of faith used across Islam, known as the shahada.
Underneath the writing is also a circle highlighted with more black writing, “Mohammed is the messenger of God”.
The circle is said to resemble prophet Muhammed’s seal. The logo is also on the flags of African and Middle eastern terrorist groups, Al Shabab and Al Qaeda.
The issue was also picked up by social media. Calls to the Luqman family went unanswered yesterday.
Islamic Front leader Umar Abduallah, among those at the airport, said the girl was among several present to greet the men.
He confirmed he’d told her to take the jacket off. “I told her to do so since nobody wanted to send the wrong message.”
“But such things with (Isis) symbols are all over the place, mostly youths are buying them. People wear all kinds of things in T&T. Youths normally take up all kinds of things as fashion,”
National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said, “We’re looking at the legal aspect of all aspects—anything to do with terrorism will fall under the spotlight.”
Attorney General Faris-Al Rawi didn’t answer calls concerning legislative framework on such.
However, Mohammed defended the girl, saying, “Not because something has Arabic sayings on it, means it’s Isis or it’s evil.”
“The phrases—There is no god but Allah [God]. Mohammad is the messenger of Allah‚ are the foundations of Islam.
“Many Muslims in T&T believe in these sayings as the tenets of the religion. But the sayings have nothing to do with vulgarities or abuse perpetrated by these groups (isis).”
“If you have such sayings on a jersey or jacket, it doesn’t mean you follow Isis. But some sentiments are now giving rise to Islamophobia, stigmatising everything that is Islam and misconstruing its nature. I hope people would be aware and understand we must respect each others’ beliefs.”
Scholar: Trinis like
Islamic scholar, Aziza Charles, of San Juan, who was with Mohammed, added, “The logo (on the girl’s jacket) isn’t exclusive to Isis. “
“The writing of the sayings are Arabic calligraphy. Many youths wear it. But groups like Isis ‘hijacked ‘the symbol and part of the problem also, is that everyone else around the world associates it with Isis now,”
Use of Isis’ flag displaying the logo has been banned in the Netherlands and Germany. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron had suggested it in the UK also, but that wasn’t legalised.
T&T Guardian checks revealed some sources “access” similar garment/ items, with the same design, but they’re not sold openly.
One source said: “It’s not a big thing, it’s a fashion statement, mostly by some youths. You know how fashion or fashion statements are—Trinis just like to follow-fashion. Isis is a talking point these days, so... The style passes. Is just for now.”
Other items of apparel—black or beige headgear—associated with Middle Eastern states or with the practice of Islam, are also more popular locally now than in recent years.
Last month, a middle-aged man entering the Parliament to deliver a document to an MP was asked by security to remove his pakol (round hat used in Pakistan and Afghanistan) as he was being scanned. He declined, saying the hat was for Muslim religious purposes.