RADHICA DE SILVA

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Presbyterian Moderator Rev Joy Abdul-Mohan says people who make racial comments on social media must be held accountable.

Speaking about the recent increase in racial discord following the 2020 general election, Abdul-Mohan said there was also a need for educational institutions and religious denominations to take a firm stance against racism.

“People must be held culpable and responsible for their actions in some way. Is it that politicians really divide us and promote divisiveness when it comes to elections?” she asked.

Noting that it was “predominantly around election time that racism rears its ugly head,” Abdul-Mohan said before the elections were held, she called on politicians not to use the race card.

“We cannot allow politicians to dictate how we do things. We must be dedicated to educating our population on diversity, social justice and inclusion. As a Presbyterian community of faith, we believe that God made all human beings in God’s image and likeness … yet different in so many ways that make this world such a beautiful place in which to live,” she said.

She added, “Education is the key to changing this kind of racial strife. We must foster integration and respect. Denominational bodies must intensify our efforts to have a collaborative approach to unity. The politicians should be kept in check. Yes, it is true that we have freedom of speech but if that speech is affecting cohesion, unity and stability, then something must be done.”

Abdul-Mohan said the avalanche of racial comments on social media may have been spawned out of political polarsation, but it was up to citizens to respect one another.

“Even some religious leaders promote that kind of attitude. The archbishop, myself and others may make the effort but some people love this mauvais langue (pronounced Mo-vay-lang) Patios meaning, bad tongue approach). Its a cultural thing and it has to stop. We must move from hostility to hospitality and we must confront racism and inequality and build a deeper understanding of justice and equity. Let’s work on this before it gets out of hand,” she said.

She added, “Let’s strive every day to make that beauty a lived reality in our rainbow county of T&T where unity in diversity is reflected in every creed and race.

Let’s make the Gospel of Jesus real in the lives of all of humankind. Together we aspire… Together we achieve.”

She also said the media should not give airplay to racist comments.

Meanwhile, the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association Inc. (ASJA) also expressed concern over the racial narratives.

The association said: “The ASJA has always maintained a high moral code of conduct enshrined in the Quranic ideals for the development of the spiritual, moral, economic and societal welfare of individuals and society. The ASJA as an autonomous body has always worked harmoniously with any democratically appointed Government, civil society and all public and private groups to support and promote the coordination of the democratic rights of citizens, the promotion of collective discipline as a society and the preservation of respect for all our members and citizens irrespective of race, political affiliation or economic status.”

Saying both Allah and the Holy Prophet Muhammed promoted racial unity and peace, ASJA issued a call for all citizens, groups and institutions to adopt principles of fairness, respect, justice and equality.

“Let this be our guiding principles as we continue to work for the upliftment of our nation and we strongly and unequivocally condemn racism and discrimination in all its forms,” the ASJA added.

On Thursday, Archbishop Jason Gordon and the Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) urged citizens to denounce racism in all its forms. Gordon said T&T seemed to be blinded by race.