Noor Hassanali

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His Excellency
Noor Mohamed Hassanali
TC
2nd President of Trinidad and Tobago
In office
19 March 1987 – 19 March 1997
Prime Minister A.N.R. Robinson
Patrick Manning
Basdeo Panday
Preceded by Ellis Clarke
Succeeded by A. N. R. Robinson
Personal details
Born (1918-08-13)August 13, 1918
San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago
Died August 25, 2006(2006-08-25) (aged 88)
Trinidad and Tobago
Nationality Citizen of Trinidad and Tobago
Spouse(s) Zalayhar Hassanali
Profession Lawyer
Religion Islam

Noor Mohamed Hassanali, TC (13 August 1918 – 25 August 2006) was the second President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (1987 to 1997). A retired High Court judge, President Hassanali was the first Indo-Trinidadian to hold the office of President and was the first Muslim head of state in the Americas. The sixth of seven children, Hassanali was born in San Fernando and was educated at Canaan and Corinth Canadian Mission (now Presbyterian) Primary Schools and Naparima College. After graduating he taught at Naparima from 1938 to 1943. In 1943 he travelled to Canada, where he studied at the University of Toronto.[1] While in Canada he served as a member of the Canadian Officers Training Corps from 1943 until the end of the war in 1945. He was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in London in 1948.

Noor Hassanali worked as a lawyer in private practice from 1948 to 1953, when he was appointed as a Magistrate. In 1960 he was appointed Senior Magistrate and later that year was appointed Senior Crown Counsel in Attorney General's Chambers. In 1965 he was appointed Assistant Solicitor General and the following year he was appointed Judge of the High Court. In 1978 he was appointed to the Court of Appeal and retired on 14 April 1985. He was elected President in 1987 following elections which brought the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) to government. Although the office of President was largely ceremonial (similar to that of Governor General before the country became a republic) he was such a popular national figure that he was re-elected in 1992 by the People's National Movement (PNM) administration.

Hassanali was described as "one of the most neutral, reserved, and dignified figures in the history of T&T politics".[2] When he was inaugurated as President in 1987 he was described as "a person of impeccable credentials who has a reputation for honesty and humility of the highest order."[3] As a Muslim, Hassanali chose not to serve alcoholic beverages at President's House. Despite reservations on the part of then-Prime Minister A. N. R. Robinson, the decision was never seen as controversial by the public.[4]

He was married to Zalayhar Mohammed and had two children, Khalid and Amena Hassanali-Sutton. Together with his brothers, Noor Hassanali was an avid and skilful footballer, playing both for Naparima College and for his club Spitfire. In 2003 he published a book of his speeches entitled Teaching Words in conjunction with the Naps Charitable Foundation. His brother, Fyzul Hassanali has written two books on cricket. His cousins include Manny Ramjohn, who was an Olympic long-distance runner, and Dr. Jean Ramjohn-Richards, First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago and wife of its fourth President, Professor George Maxwell Richards.

Hassanali succeeded acting president Michael Williams[citation needed] (who in turn had succeeded Ellis Clarke (1976–1987) and was himself succeeded by Arthur N. R. Robinson (President 1997–2003).

He died in the early hours of the morning of August 25, 2006.

References[edit]

  1. ^ * Biography from Nalis.
  2. ^ A dignified figure of T&T politics, Trinidad Guardian, 26 August 2006.
  3. ^ Then-Prime Minister A. N. R. Robinson, quoted in A dignified figure of T&T politics, Trinidad Guardian, 26 August 2006.
  4. ^ " As one committed to the Muslim faith Mr Hassanali never allowed alcoholic beverages to be served at any of his functions at President’s House. I considered that as president of such diverse faiths as exist in Trinidad and Tobago, that one might appear to some to imposing one’s belief on others. Nevertheless, this never became an issue in the country and the tenure of this noble citizen was marked by peaceful acceptance by the nation." Hassanali a model citizen – Robinson, Trinidad Guardian, 26 August 2006.
Political offices
Preceded by
Ellis Clarke
President of Trinidad and Tobago
1987–1997
Succeeded by
A. N. R. Robinson