I did not cut religious bands off Hindu students at Fatima: Garcia

Education Minister Anthony Garcia


Education Minister Anthony Garcia has dismissed claims that he cut religious bands off the hands of Hindu students while he was principal at St James-based Fatima College.

The minister has lashed out at the rumours to that effect even as he challenges a decision by the board and management of Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College to block Muslim wearing On-The-Job trainee Nafisah Nakhid from entering the school’s premises wearing a religious symbol, unless she removed it.

In a strongly worded statement Tuesday, in his personal capacity Garcia wrote, “I want to state in no uncertain terms, and leaving no room for misinterpretation that I did not carry out these acts.”

He believed damaging claims against him which he described as “defamatory” and “misleading” were being levelled those wanting to both shake the public’s confidence in him and subsequently undermine the work he was doing at the education ministry.

Garcia said Roman Catholic priest and Fatima College principal Fr Gregory Augustine who was manager at the school during his tenure could vouch for the concept of religious tolerance practiced at the school.

“Father Gregory also went on to reiterate that zero tolerance on discrimination was a part of the school’s policy,” said Garcia.

On the Nakhid issue and the response by officials at Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College when she refused to remove her hijab, Garcia maintains that it was because of her religion.

“I have been quite vocal on my stance as it pertains to a person’s right to religious freedom and the protection that is offered to all citizens under the constitutions of Trinidad and Tobago.“I have it made it quite clear that religious intolerance will not be permitted at any of the nation’s schools,” the minister said.

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