Artistes and fans have come out in defense of Bunji Garlin after a television host accused him of promoting banditry.
Speaking on the Morning Edition show on Monday morning, host Fazeer Mohammed took issue with the face mask Garlin was wearing.
"Take a look at this image and ask yourself, do we allow our entertainers to get away with things that politicians, for example, other public personalities to get away with. For example, if a politician turned up at a fete or any event dressed as the personality on the left there in that picture, wouldn't he be condemned for glorifying banditry, wouldn't he?" he asked, referring to a picture with Garlin, his wife Fay Ann and Machel Montano, moments before the two soca kings made their first appearance together at Soaka. The duo released their first song together, "Buss Head", on Friday.
"We seem to have a level of tolerance for a certain type of behavior...we not just encourage, we celebrate inappropriate behavior," he said.
The comment prompted a response from Garlin who posted eight images of himself from his early days in soca to present with a face mask.
"There's about 10 more I could post but none of these pictures are new so all of a sudden is 'why the rag on my face' Those who know my character since I came on the scene know I've been a masked warrior and I do it when I'm zoning for stage. Sorry I can't help by adding any other foolish speculation to that," he said.
As the evening progressed Garlin got support from his new ally Machel Montano who posted a picture of himself in a face mask at an event in Berlin in 2014.
"Now that we found love what are THEY gonna do ..with it ... They are gonna try to call it banditry , a ploy , a failure , not enough , not what they wanted ...and more .... Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what they see they will spew ...! I look at this moment an I see love ... to those who love , let us continue to stand together and not be divided or ruled by those that lack it or the ability to see it ! Love," he said.
Anthony Chow Lin On, owner of 96.1 FM and close friend of Montano also weighed in showing off his red bandana on his face from 2013.
"Ok people I need to call this for what it is, to take one of the most positive moments in the recent history of our culture, and suggest that bunji is encouraging banditry is downright insulting and wrong on so many levels it is not funny , please raise your voices and let Fazeer know we not taking dat," he posted on his Facebook page.
Atillah Springer, a writer and activist, also weighed in as she posted her masked photo from a protest in London.
" Protesting in London against war in the Middle East. #dearfazeer People cover their faces for all sorts of reasons. As a Muslim you should know that, right? Have a bit of humility and humanity and confront your own racist perceptions of young black people before you make such dangerous and damaging #stinkanddutty statements. #wedohfraidnobody," she said.
Garlin's wife, Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez also had her say,
"HIS NAME IS BUNJI GARLIN.......Well I'm confused, firstly the personality is called Bunji Garlin, secondly are we condoning the JUDGEMENT OF PERSONS based on what they wear?? CCN TV6: Trinidad and Tobago because it seemed a black man WE KNOW with his face covered is supporting Bandits!!! But the same black man with a family and a wife and a kid GETS NO APPLAUSE for that! Sooooo with all that's in the country are to say EVERY BLACK person that covers their face is a bandit fan, just like all suit and tie persons are UPSTANDING. Better than that Trinidad!!! With all that DONALD TRUMP IS doing you LOCALS really want to cast shadows on ppl! CAPITAL STEUPS!."
In response to the backlash Mohammed this morning defended his comment, stating that he gave his opinion and extended an invitation for Garlin to join him on set to talk.