BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, September 24, 2014  (AMG) —Tensions are running high in some sections of Barbados, following inaccurate media reports that Muslims there have acquired planning permission to build an “exclusive” residential community.

The new community, according to project developers in the An-Noor Muslim Association, will be sited on five-acres of residential land in the up-scale West Coast neighbourhood of Clermont in St. James, and will include a mosque and community centre among its thirty-seven housing units.

While media reports indicate that planning authorities have denied An-Noor’s request to perform the adhān – the five-time-daily Islamic call to worship – wider criticisms have chided government authorities for allowing the community to be built at all.

Islamophobic reactions have been intense. Tony Waterman, a commenter on the Barbados Nation website questioned the move, asking  “what’s next, Sharia law?”, despite that the island currently hosts five mosques – some which pre-date Barbados’ independence in 1966.

Hundreds more have supported a missive by Barbados Free Press (BFP) – a citizen blog – which concluded that “there can be no debate that these Islamic values and teachings are anti-Bajan, and destructive to our national character.”

Even more intense have been pleas from BFP readers to force the “assimilation” of Muslims into general Barbados society:

“Deny them freedom to dress differently. Deny them the facility of hiding their faces. Deny special schools. They assimilate and if they want to apply for a Barbados passport, they must meet the requirements of being a Barbadian”

While by no means a representative sample, expressions of Islamophobia – and the viral nature of the anti-Islamic sentiment towards the proposed community – are problematic.

The response from the Muslim community has understandably been one of disappointment. Suleiman Bulbulia of the Barbados Muslim Association has been quick to dismiss reports that the community was intended to be exclusive, noting that Barbadians of any faith were welcomed to purchase lots within the community. He adds:

“I am deeply saddened when in wonderful Barbados we have to hear such negative comments based on false and misleading information that so tarnish our tradition of harmony and peaceful coexistence”Suleiman Bulbulia

According to the latest census data, around 1,600 – or 0.7% – of Barbadians identify as Islamic, although the origins of the Muslim community within the island date back as far as 1913, when Indians were brought to the Caribbean as indentured servants following labour shortages after the abolition of slavery.

A majority of Muslims in Barbados are already concentrated in the city environs of Bridgetown, but they remain a fixture within several Barbadian communities through itinerant trading, where travelling Muslim traders provide critical credit facilities for the purchase of goods by poorer Barbadians.

Follow-up: We interviewed Suliemann Bulbulia for a response to this story, and more on the Muslim community in Barbados. Read it here

How Barbadian media turned on its Muslim community

Antillean Media Group

Working with Caribbean media partners, we go behind the news to deliver impartial, evidence-based reports on issues that impact residents, governments and investors in over 21 Caribbean territories. Contact us at editor@antillean.org.

Category: Identities
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22 comments

  • Thanks alot. We need more sensible people like you talking out against biased, media- brainwashed people like the man who writes Barbados Free Press. These sort of people threaten the peaceful co-existance of Muslims with the wider Bajan society by indoctrinating Bajans with the belief that we as Muslims are trying to take over Barbados with extremist tactics.

  • There currently exists in the same neighbourhood, TWO gated communities. I guess we have got so accustomed to a certain group segregating themselves that we remain unconcerned. The outcry against the Muslims buying land as a group and building housing is ridiculous in face of the aforementioned situation. If you ask me, I think it is prudent investing. If Muslims want to engage in terrorist acts or associate with terrorists groups, do they need a special neighbourhood for that?

  • Islam isn’t just a religion its a violent ideology which needs to be controlled. Barbados can ill afford to foster gated communities behind which dangerous ideologues can find succor.

    • This is such a prejudiced and hyperbolic statement that I am embarrassed to even have to respond to it. So by your sweeping judgement this one religion and ALL of it’s followers are violent ideologues? You sir are what is wrong with this society and many others. I hope you are never persecuted for being whatever you are, as you would wish on others.

  • All Abrahamic religions -judism, christianity and islam- have histories of violence/violent ideologies. Secular mindsets have, over time, “calmed” the more fundamentalist ideologies and practices out of the two oldest of this religious trinity. We see that a huge number of jews are cultural jews more than observant jews, and that a large number of person who identify as christian, are so by default of birth/socialisation, not so much by practice. That said, we still see how violent and malicious both can be once taken to fundamentalist extremes. Look at the LRA, Lords Revolutionary Army (think KONY), in Africa or the KKK of the early to middle parts of the previous century in America for christian ideology run wild, or peep the Zionist movement for a jewish extreme.
    Of course these are all placed within certain social, geographic and cultural context, none of which apply to Barbados. The Barbadian muslim community does not have a history or fundamentalism or violence. As it stands the small community is already a close knit one, and lots of them already live very close to each other in what can appear to be little enclaves – just as the mormons, closed brthren and rastafari do.
    Irresponsible writing on the part of The Nation, and sensationalised and unresearched bullshit on the part of the Barbados Free Press, have fueled that xenophobic part of the Barbadian psyche. Shame really, considering that the muslims are bajan and not some outside entity. Shame really.

  • What are the press drumming up..?

    What about the other gated communities that have sprung up all over the island, by other non Bajans and Banana?

    These types of enclosed communities should be outlawed.

    The it would not be news worthy as it would not be allowed..

    A sense of clickiness because of the evil spectre of money wrecking people’s humanity to each other, is causing a them and us elitist sick society..

    In a country as small as Barbados community and intergration is needed, not separation and segregation.. Soon Bim will be another apartheid country.

    Cha..

  • Our Muslim Community

    Originally they came around 1913
    Used as indentured servants when slavery had been
    Rightly abolished but created a labor shortage

    Many Indians were brought in to quell any work stoppage
    Unique were their tenacity
    Struggled to complete task with dignity
    Lifted their heads up in work but bowed them in faith
    In hard times they walk boldly and not like they are scared by a wraith
    My neighborhood depended on their consistency

    Coolies built us up by extending a payments policy
    Our nation owes much of its development to these travelling collectors
    Modestly priced items were sold in their Swan Street stores
    Minibus transportation, Malls and electronic devices
    Ultimately were boosted through their proletariat prices
    Now if this 0.7% of our population wants to further enhance
    Integration into Bim, they should be given the chance
    They helped are still helping Bajans, especially those close to poverty
    Yet the well-to-doers can’t do well and allow Our Muslim Community

  • It is misleading to say that tensions are running high in Barbados and it has turned on its Muslim community.It is not true and your sensalizing the whole issue is unnecessary.
    As for the assertion of Barbados free press (BFP)that Islamic values and teachings are anti-Abakan,and destructive to national culture”.Let me respond by asking that living amongst the local black Barbadian in areas like King st.,Chapman st.Mason hall st,Carrington village etc for the
    Past 100 years without any moral,religious ,social upheavals and always striving to be law abiding sons and daughters of our rock can be considered as anti-bajan and destructive to our national character?
    Judge us according to our deeds.
    The writers of BFP must be from mars or blinded by prejudice not to see Bajan Muslims into various aspects of Barbadian society,be it sports,marriage,work etc. BFP probably want us to Wukkup pun spring garden on kadooment day loosing our sense of morality and modesty,then we are guilty of not “assimilating”.
    We are “born & bred Bajans” and our “naval strings “are buried pun this rock like every Bajan.You can prance as much as you want.We are here to stay because this rock is our. Home.
    The first Muslim came in 1910 and not 1913.We did not come here as “indentured servants ” from India as no indentured Indians were brought to Barbados(Bengal to Barbados-a 100 year history of East Indians in Barbados).We came on our own and we love it.
    Mr.Tony Waterman don’t seem to know about “sharia”.Every aspect of a Muslim life is based on sharia from birth to death.Prayer,fasting,business dealings,marriage,divorce,inheritance etc are all based on sharia. We in Barbados follow sharia in our daily life.
    Peace be with you.
    Sabir Nakhuda.

  • Fred need to get through his thick head thatno where in the media did it says that clairmont will be a gated community.Did you ever visited a mosque? If you have not then you can go and visit a mosque nearest you.You should also approach Muslims and raise your concerns.
    Let us stretch our hands and touch each other for it is the best way of removing myths and misconceptions.
    Peace be with you.

  • So what if the Clermont development is exclusive to Muslims? If you have so much disgust for them why would you want to live in their neighborhood? Why would you want to send your children to a Muslim school?

    Also, last I checked there are many non-Muslim gated communities in Barbados already and Christian Faith focused schools.

    The softest way I can put my opinion about this article is that the author was seriously misinformed, misinterpreted, misguided and like most of the time, gained knowledge about Muslims from non-Muslims & corrupted media.

    • Clearly you didn’t read the article that you commented on.

  • as for all the racial statements you all need to 1st look at our history here we always follow Sheria (islamic law ) from dusk till dawn and try our almost best to be law abiding. If it was our intention to take out or cause any1 any harm I would have been planned right in our homes . Dear friends this is a peaceful country let us not be like the rest of the world , for Allah’s (God’s ) sake we are all brothers and sisters we bleed the same red blood and are buried on the same earth .

  • Orthodox Jews do this sort of thing too, but Zionist controlled lamestream media hardly ever highlights that fact. its just that our religion teaches us to do things differently. theres many non muslims who complain that things are much worse now than when they were young. we muslims dont want ourselves & our children to get affected by all this corruption & evil thats becoming more common- so we prefer to live seperately- so we can practice our religion in peace. if the majority of society became more decent & had better morals & habits- we would not mind living among them.

  • As a Barbadian born and bred, it is hugely embarrassing to hear so-called educated stalwarts and members of the free press react like this.
    “Deny them freedom to dress differently. Deny them the facility of hiding their faces. Deny special schools. They assimilate and if they want to apply for a Barbados passport, they must meet the requirements of being a Barbadian.”
    What defines a Barbadian? Last time I checked we were human beings with freedom of choice and speech like any other. How does an Islamic member of society prove himself to be “one of the flock”? Utterly ridiculous…
    Islam, Christianity, Judism…all have had a violent history. So to mark every person of Islamic faith as violent is unjust and extremely prejudiced.

  • I live in Clermont and I have not heard a single word of complaint from my neighbors about the proposed complex. When people write articles based on the comments of Internet crazies, we go down a dangerous path. Let the crazy people rant. Ignore them. Their views hold no value to right-thinking people. There are already Muslims in Clermont; Jews; Hindus; Bahai; Christians of almost every denomination. Welcome.

    • But it’s not just internet crazies. I went to a church where the pastor said they want to create an Islamic state, and in so many comments on the nation article shared around the social web – total folly and xenophobia. I think this article didn’t quote enough people! Because there is a serious xenophobic element

  • The Myth:

    Islam is compatible with democratic principles. The religion itself is a democracy.

    The Truth:

    A democracy is a system in which all people are judged as equals before the law, regardless of race, religion or gender. The vote of every individual counts as much as the vote of any other. The collective will of the people then determines the rules of society.

    Under Islamic law, only Muslim males are entitled to full rights. The standing of a woman is often half that of a man’s – sometimes even less. Non-Muslims have no standing with a Muslim. In fact, a Muslim can never be put to death for killing an unbeliever.

    The Islamic state is guided by Islamic law, derived from the Quran and Sunnah. A body of clerics interprets the law and applies it to all circumstances social, cultural and political. The people are never to be placed above the Quran and Sunnah any more than man should be above Allah.

    It is somewhat debatable as to whether there are any states in the Muslim world that qualify as actual democracies. There is no denying, however, that the tiny handful that are often held up as democratic nations are ones in which deep tension exists between the government and religious leaders, as the latter often complain that democracy is an idolatrous system imposed on them.

    Islam does not facilitate democracy.

    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/myths-of-islam.htm#democracy

  • You would be surprised to learn that some of the ppl who shouted loudest about this housing development are wealthy white Barbadians who themselves are either living in gated communities or have family and friends living in such. Sorry this forum doesn’t allow one to call names.

  • […] system for their faith and way of life, Barbadian Muslims have built mosques, schools and even a controversial housing development that critics accused of being for Muslims only. Though the developers deny this, the […]

  • Pardon me but there need to a correction made here. Let’s for a moment try to broaden the perspective of the Barbadian people. Bajans of African descent were brought over on the slave ships which were packed with many muslims. They were muslims here before our brothers and sisters arrived from Bangledesh. Read your African history and you will end up in Timbuktu e somewhee my grandmother who was born in1906 taught me about. The oldewhst islamic university that peopled travelled miles to study the sciences , arabic , arithemetic, astrology etc. It’s our lost history. Everyone has computers, read about the contribution that Islam has made to the world, Bajans get out of the box and open your minds and you will see that the same thing that you may be fighting against could just be the solution to your problems. Islam is the most holistic and comprehensive way of life. It applies to every aspect of our being and life. I am a Barbadian who happens to be of African descent and very proud to be a muslim. I have lived a very long life and I know hundreds of muslims and I still have to this day meet a socalled extremist. Every one born in a muslim country is not a muslim and every one born in Italy ischristian, you get me? Our lord orders us to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave ,
    it’s an obligation so don’t be fooled or led away by propaganda, muslims are the nicest people you could meet,I think that you could attest to that, left we ley we live.

  • Pardon me but there need to a correction made here. Let’s for a moment try to broaden the perspective of the Barbadian people. Bajans of African descent were brought over on the slave ships which were packed with many muslims. They were muslims here before our brothers and sisters arrived from Bangledesh. Read your African history and you will end up in Timbuktu e somewhee my grandmother who was born in1906 taught me about. The oldewhst islamic university that peopled travelled miles to study the sciences , arabic , arithemetic, astrology etc. It’s our lost history. Everyone has computers, read about the contribution that Islam has made to the world, Bajans get out of the box and open your minds and you will see that the same thing that you may be fighting against could just be the solution to your problems. Islam is the most holistic and comprehensive way of life. It applies to every aspect of our being and life. I am a Barbadian who happens to be of African descent and very proud to be a muslim. I have lived a very long life and I know hundreds of muslims and I still have to this day meet a socalled extremist. Every one born in a muslim country is not a muslim and every one born in Italy is’nt a christian, you get me? Our lord orders us to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave ,
    it’s an obligation so don’t be fooled or led away by propaganda, muslims are the nicest people you could meet,I think that you could attest to that, left we ley we live.

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