The Trinidad Guardian / A photograph being widely circulated on social media which claims to show Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley asleep during an Eid-ul-Fitr function in San Fernando, has been described as misleading and disrespectful by head of the Macoon Street Jamaat, Imam Raffaic Mohamed.

At a news conference yesterday, Mohamed denied that Rowley was sleeping and said the persons who circulated the photograph should have contacted the masjid authorities before posting it on social media.

“I came here to clear the air about what occurred at the masjid. As the leader of the masjid, it was disrespectful and in bad taste. As host to the Honourable Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, it is my duty and responsibility to say the truth,” he said.

“I invited him to sit there, which he did. After which he was called upon to bring greetings on behalf of the government and the people of Trinidad and Tobago. It saddens me that this issue is embarrassing to the masjid and the Prime Minister since he was an invited guest.”

Mohamed denied that the masjid was affiliated with the PNM and that was why Dr Rowley was invited.

“The Macoon Street Masjid is not affiliated to any party. Everyone is welcome. This issue that has blown up is not an issue. Islam teaches respect for authority. What is being displayed is total disrespect. You disrespected the office of the Prime minister, you disrespectful to the office of the Imam, you disrespect the Jamaat, its members and you disrespect the Muslim community. When news come to you, you must verify the truth,” he said.

Asked to zero in on exactly what was disrespectful, Mohamed responded: “What the media is showing without consulting the masjid is disrespectful. The media has a right to contact the authorities of the masjid.

They should not have gone on their own to do what they did.”

When he was told that the media was not involved in the posting of the photograph, Mohamed responded: “Whoever did it, it was disrespectful. There were no media here. He was sitting and leaned back so. It happened to me too, so how come this negative approach? I was at the side of him, I was in conversation with him at every moment.”

Mohamed added, “On Eid day we have visitors who come to the masjid. We do not screen anybody. The media cannot put on their own what they want to put, they must have verification.”

Asked why he thought the photograph was posted, Mohamed said: “I am not a politician and I will not get in that argument. I am a Muslim and once someone is affected under my purview, I will talk about it. I as imam have the responsibility to respond and this is what I am doing here. I don’t have to consult and ask/ That is the privilege of my office.”

He denied that he had spoken to the Prime Minister since the photograph began circulating.

“What concerns me is the masjid and the Muslim community,” he said.

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