Farley calls for end to war in Middle East

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine, left, and THA minority leader Kelvon Morris at the Masjid Al Tawbah, Hampden, Lowlands, Tobago, on April 10. – Photo by Corey Connelly

THA CHIEF SECRETARY Farley Augustine has called for an end to the war in the Middle East.

Israel has been waging a deadly military attack against the Gaza strip since an October 7, 2023, cross-border attack by the Palestinian group, Hamas.

Over the past six months, the Israeli army has been relentless in its genocide and ethnic cleansing crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Addressing Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations on April 10 at the Masjid Al Tawbah, Hampden, Lowlands, Tobago, Augustine alluded to the ongoing war in the Middle East, saying it has gone on for far too long.

He told devotees, “We have to put a stop to the genocide that is happening in the Middle East, an apartheid regime that is happening in the Middle East. It has gone on for far too long and the world has just accepted it. I think the world needs to take a firm decision where that is concerned.”

Augustine said, though, he was proud to be a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, which has “a firm position that there should be a ceasefire.

“Because we are a country that was birthed out of the traumas of inequality. We, more than anyone else, must be assertive in saying to the rest of the world that inequality anywhere is unacceptable.

“And so we join with the rest of the sensible and right-thinking world in saying that there must be an end to the ceasefire and there must be an end to the genocide that is currently taking place before our very eyes.”

Praising the Tobago Muslim community for its sacrifice, discipline and all-embracing philosophy, Augustine encouraged the community to not just provide a safe place for young people but to be a part of the political discourse to uplift the island.

“Because you have a role to play and you must be a part of the conversation on autonomy.”

He said they must demonstrate that faith-based communities “have a voice and must take leadership in ways that leadership has not been taken in a long while.”

Augustine added, “There has to be a balance in what we do. You have to be part of the mobilisation. You have to be a part of the solution and if you are not a part of the solution, then you are really a part of the problem.”

Minority Leader Kelvon Morris told the Muslims that they, too, must join other faith-based communities in the fight against crime.

Like Augustine, Morris also called for an “immediate ceasefire to the suffering and pain” in the Middle East as he reflected on the decapitation of four year-old Amarah Lallitte, in Fifth Avenue, Arouca, on April 8.

Referring to the gruesome murder, he said, “This calls for a deeper level of spiritual consciousness, spiritual revolution and I believe that our Muslim brothers and sisters have a significant part to play.”

Noting that several religious celebrations – Phagwa, Shouter/Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day, Easter and Ed ul-Fitr – were observed in close proximity, Morris said, “It speaks to a level of tolerance and if we can do this as a nation in terms of religious tolerance and religious inclusiveness, I think we can do better as a nation in treating with our current challenges with the number one being crime.”

Having undergone a period of fasting, through the holy month of Ramadan, Morris said citizens can learn much about discipline from the Muslim community.

“The country is facing a period of great indiscipline and it is in that context that I really believe it is important that we inculcate in the nation, in the consciousness of every citizen, that quality, that principle of discipline.”

PNM senator Laurence Hislop, who also spoke, piggy-backed on Morris’ comments about religious tolerance.

But he believes there is also a level of acceptance of the country’s various religious groups.

“It is about brotherhood, love and respect, not just tolerance,” he said.

“This is what humanity should be about. It should be about respecting each-other. It should be about loving each-other. It should not just be about me tolerating you because you are next to me but because I love you…..That is the beauty of Trinidad and Tobago and we have to give ourselves as a people a round of applause because we no longer just tolerate each-other. We accept each-other and we love each-other for who we are.”

Lambeau/Lowlands assemblyman Wane Clarke and several religious leaders also brought greetings.

Among those attending Innovative Democratic Alliance political leader Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus and Tobago Hindu Society president Pulwaty Beepath.