His first reaction to the public outcry over the sari skit was that people were hell-bent on creating racial, religious tensions and dismissed it as foolishness.
Well, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has made a complete about turn and has now apologized.
It is not often that Rowley apologizes, but he did on this occasion after tremendous pressure from various quarters.
The drama unfolded last Sunday at the PNM Family Day in Chaguanas. There was a skit which depicted gorillas undressing a woman dressed in a yellow sari.
No sooner had the photographs appeared in the media, groups criticized the PNM for the skit. There was even a protest outside the Office of the Prime Minister last Thursday during which a letter was delivered to Rowley calling for an apology.
Well, on Saturday night at a PNM meeting in Malabar, Rowley backed down.
Rowley said the skit was disrespectful to Hindu religion, but it was done out of ignorance and not malicious intent.
He added,“Tonight, on behalf of the People’s National Movement and all concerned, I unreservedly apologize to the Hindu community.”
Rowley said the party’s Tabaquite constituency put on the skit which saw a woman having her yellow sari being removed to highlight that constituency changing political allegiance to the PNM from the United National Congress (UNC).
However, Rowley said while that was the intention behind the skit, he now understands how it could be seen as mirroring the Mahabharata.
Rowley said he did not know of the story of the Mahabharata before, but loud chorus of opposition to the skit caused him to find out about it.
Rowley said the Mahabharata “is a serious spiritual, religious expression” that is extremely significant to the Hindu community.
Rowley said he did not know this before and last week was a learning experience for him.
As such, Rowley said this country’s education system needs to ensure all aspects of the country’s diverse religious and ethical beliefs are taught.
Rowley, however, said while the skit was insulting the PNM were not advocating for either rape or violence towards women.
He said no one can disregard the hurt that was caused by the skit and said the situation needs to be a learning experience for all.
Rowley thanked Sat Maharaj for understanding that the PNM did not intend to disrespect Hindus and said all disrespect was unintentional.
Rowley said the skit was equivalent to someone having a skit around Christmas time and having someone pretending to be inebriated urinating on the crèche with Jesus Christ.
He said he had now problem apologizing for the wrong that was committed.
Before the apology, Minister of National Security Minister Stuart Young said it was a “lil bit of fun”, while Rowley had claimed people were hell-bent on creating racial, religious tensions and dismissed it as foolishness.