|Biographical detail : ||President of Trinidad and Tobago
Second president (1987-97) of Trinidad and Tobago, after its independence (1962), Noor Hassanali was the first Muslim and its first of Indian origin, who saw off a coup and calmed the islands’ racial and religious tensions.
The islands’ racial and religious tensions have been simmering for years, sometimes between Christians and Muslim Afro-Trinidadians, but more often between radical black Muslim converts and the largely Muslim population of Indian origin.
Islanders of all religions and ethnic origins considered Noor’s tranquil demeanour, his mediation skills, his objectivity and his devout Islamic faith were key to calming disgruntled Muslims, many of them Afro-Caribbean who had converted from Christianity, in the months and years after the coup attempt, in July 1990.
He went to Canada to further his education and later to London where he was called to the Bar as a member of Gray’s Inn. Noor went back to his country and served in legal positions – High Court judge and finally Supreme Court Justice of Appeal until he retired in 1985.
Noor Hassanali was born in the coastal town of San Fernando, a grandson of an indentured labourer from India.