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Members of the Muslim Community Still Unsafe?

On Thursday, the Muslim Community leaders met with the Belize Police Department’s high command, including the Minister of Home Affairs, Wilfred Elrington; CEO of National Security, George Lovell; Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie; ACP Joseph Myvett; and ACP Chester Williams. While some of the Muslim community’s concerns were quelled and the Ahmad family received some reassurances from the Minister in regards to the Fareed Ahmad murder investigation, some concerns lingered. As we have reported, the family continues to seek answers as to why they were all detained last year and kept in police custody for hours. To that, Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Elrington said he would personally find out why and present his findings in writing to the family within two weeks. Another point brought up during the meeting was the matter of rogue cops but the Minister quickly assured the Muslim community and the public via the media that every police officer is answerable to the Commissioner of Police. And then there is the matter of the Muslim community feeling persecuted by the Belize Police Department. Member of the Managing Committee, Nuri Muhammad said that while they have now been restored with some sense of calm following the meeting with the police, they are still concerns that a few individual police officers are still harassing members of the community.

Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Home Affairs

“After listening to the Minster he has assured us and he has repeated it that there is no intention on the part going form Cabinet all the way through to target the Muslim community in anyway. We have no reason to doubt what Minster Elrigton said to us today. What concerns us is that it appears that to use that biblical term there wields within the wheel in other words that within the Police Department answerable not necessarily to the higher command; Maybe individual officers whether they were trained elsewhere or have colleagues from other places; I don’t know what the situation is but there is still a general feeling by many Muslim that Police officers are looking at them as some kind of you know; we have reason to suspect and I can give some incidences of individuals beside the Ahmed family that have come in contact with Police and the kind of situation that they went through with those Police is of no legal consequence it’s as if they were just being harassed. Now this could be just opinion and feeling but the Minster said it also; no citizen of Belize should feel in any way that the security forces have me under some kind of surveillance Why? I am not committing a crime. I am a legal citizen doing what a law abiding citizen does so I should never have that feeling and I’m telling you that feeling still does exist amongst some Muslims.”