Trinidad’s Muslimeen leader, 64-year-old Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, after spending almost eight months in jail on charges of sedition, has been granted bail in the sum of TT$400,000.
Bail was granted by Port of Spain high court judge, Justice Herbert Volney after lawyers for Bakr argued their client had a critical health condition and therefore could run the risk of dying if he was made to continue to endure prison conditions.
He had been kept at the state’s maximum security prison in Arouca, east Trinidad. Justice Volney agreed that the Muslimeen leader should be released on medical grounds.
Supporters who greeted their leader said they were thankful to Allah for his release. Imam Bakr faces five counts of sedition and incitement arising out of an EID holiday presentation he made in November last year at his St James Mucurapo Mosque.
This week’s release is a reprise of last year’s events. The photo above was taken in March 2005, when the sheikh was released on bail after the government failed to convict him on a charge of conspiracy to murder.
His earlier brush with incarceration has apparently not convinced him to mend his ways:
It is alleged that at his Mucurapo Mosque during an Eid-ul-Fitr sermon on November 4 last year, Bakr threatened to use violence against the Muslim community in Trinidad, saying there will be a war if rich Muslims did not pay zakaat (a religious tax), which is required by all Muslims and said to be one of the five pillars of Islam - a tax collected to help the poor.
Notice that this was an intramural conflict among Muslims in Trinidad, and seems to involve an element of class warfare. Or maybe just a shakedown operation gone wrong…?
Sheikh Abu Bakr has a history of political violence in Trinidad:
Bakr was also the leader of a failed coup attempt in 1990 in Trinidad. He, together 113 others of his organization, stormed the country’s Parliament and held the then Prime Minister, Arthur N.R. Robinson and other government ministers hostage at gun point for several days. Robinson was also shot and wounded. At least one government minister died during the insurrection.
So now Abu Bakr is enjoying the pleasures of liberty again. I hope Trinidad’s domestic counter-terrorism units are keeping a close eye on him.
Hat tip: Uncle Pavian.