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The Actions Of The State Bureaucracy And Judiciary In The Events Surrounding The 1990 Muslimeen Insurrection.

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The 27th of July 1990 was a day full of chaos, confusion and terror for Trinidadians and Tobagonians. This was the day that the Muslimeen insurrection took place. Forty-two armed Muslimeen members stormed into the red house and held everyone in parliament hostage (Deosaran, 1993; Meighoo, 2003). Seventy-two Muslimeen members also stormed into Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT), Trinidad's only television station at the time. Amongst the members at the television station was the leader of the Muslimeen group Abu Bakr.

The Muslimeen insurrection caused a great deal of property damage, a number of people were injured, the group had illegal possession of firearms, and many more crimes against the group were highlighted. One of the serious crimes was treason again the government of Trinidad and Tobago. The other crimes were not minor, but all things considered, one would expect the Muslimeen members to be in jail up to this day. But it is sad to highlight that the bureaucracy and judicial system of Trinidad and Tobago failed the society, because they were incompetent in addressing the situation in an integral manner. This break down and incompetence of the judiciary and the state bureaucracy has caused the twin islands to be laughed at by international countries and organizations.

The entire Muslimeen issue, though, has been an issue for years. In 1969 and again in 1984 the situation regarding the Mucurapo State lands and the Muslimeen squatting could have been put to an end by the government and the city corporation. The government, however, at certain points in time, disregarded the orders of the court. The judicial system itself was not in cohesion about the issue. This conflict about what to do in the courts and the hesitancy by the government in dealing with the issue promptly, showed a clear breakdown in both the judicial system and the state bureaucracy. The prolonging of the matter and the indecisiveness of the judicial system and the government over a twenty-year period, is the foundation for the 1990 Muslimeen insurrection.

In order to understand the events of July 27th 1990, one must understand the relationship between the Muslimeen, the government, the judicial system and the society. Firstly the beginnings of the Muslimeen movement can be seen as stemming out of the black power movement of 1972 (Ryan, 1991). The persons following the Muslimeen way of life was predominantly of African descent. Many of them were outcasts of society because of involvement in drugs or some other criminal activity. Many of the men and women who joined the Muslimeen were low in physical, skills, social and psychological capitals (Deosaran, 2001). Many of the Muslimeen followers were from interesting and criminal backgrounds and as such they were always regarded with suspicion. Labelling theory in criminology comes in here, because the Muslimeen was always looked upon with suspicion. They were suspected of being involved in illegal activities, and police were always raiding their premises. Therefore a label developed within the police, the government and the society began to see the Muslimeen as being involved with criminal activities.

The Muslimeen had to face many indecisive moves on the part of the state bureaucracy, the government and the city corporation, and the judicial system. Between the years 1984 and 1985 several notices were issued to the Muslimeen indicating they had to vacate the Mucurapo lands (Deosaran, 1993). However, the Muslimeen refused to move, and to make matters worse they seemed to become more comfortable on the land. This was an act of blatant disregard for the laws of the land, which was not addressed by the bureaucracy or judiciary, and the disregard for both continued to take place by the Muslimeen.

The court then proceeded to charge Abu Bakr with contempt of court, and there was an order to demolish the structures placed upon the Mucurapo land (Meighoo, 2003). The police though, stopped in their tracks because a large Muslimeen force, consisting mostly of women and children, stood between the Imam and the police (Rajbansee, 1996). The situation became exacerbated when the Minister of National Security at the time, John Donaldson, encouraged the police to retreat paying no attention to the judgement passed by the courts on the matter. This showed disrespect for the judicial system and the laws of Trinidad and Tobago. This indecisive action on the part of the Minister along with the disregard for the ruling passed by the judicial system showed that the judicial system and the government were split into two separate entities. These two major functional bodies of a society are supposed to work for the benefit of the country, but instead they were working as two separate entities showing an obvious breakdown in both systems. This breakdown of the two systems, the split that has grown even worse throughout the years, can be indicated as yet another root of the 1990 Insurrection and other social problems facing Trinidad and Tobago today.

The indecisive behaviour of city hall, the police and the government frustrated Abu Bakr and the Muslimeen body. Labelling theory comes into play here again, because the Muslimeen was labelled as a criminal element in society. The police, on orders from the government constantly raided the Mucurapo land on which the Muslimeen's were squatting. The Muslimeen saw this as harassment, but the other parties involved, including the public felt differently (Rajbansee, 1996). Therefore the label was attached because of the government's actions toward the Muslimeen community. This notion of the Muslimeen being a criminal element filtered down into the beliefs of wider society, who also started to perceive them as a criminal element and a fearful force. All of this suspicion, labelling and blaming would not have taken place if the authorities had dealt with the situation about the squatting on state land effectively from the moment it became an issue.

From 1984 to the present time, the ruling governmental parties have changed several times. All of the political parties, who have ruled the government at one time or the other, have sought help from the Muslimeen in campaigning and other such activities. This can be considered corruption in the state bureaucracy. The government in power could not have expected solve the Muslimeen situation if they had accepted help from Abu Bakr and his member in campaigning for elections. To make matters worse, parties in power who accepted help from the Muslimeen now wanted to evict them from the land, causing more chaos and confusion in the matter. The relationship that existed between the political parties and the Muslimeen was an illegitimate one, one that would not facilitate a just decision on the issue of the Mucurapo land. Deosaran (1993) described Abu Bakr as the "politician's bogey man", because we was used



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