By MADI JOBARTEH
After the TRRC and all that The Gambia endured in the 22 bloody years of tyranny, the time has come for the shameful practice of prejudice, discrimination and abuse against one another must stop. None more than the Ahmaddiya has suffered such discrimination in this country for nothing other than their faith. Yet for decades they have remained peaceful and constructive to The Gambian Nation.
Whether the Ahmaddiya or any other sect is right or wrong in their interpretation and understanding of religion is not the issue. Hence those who wish to justify the abuse of the Ahmaddiya must give us a break and focus on their own interpretation, understanding and practice of their faith and let respect and peace reign on this land.
The issue is that The Gambia is a Republic in which the right to religion is constitutionally guaranteed. The Constitution says in Section 1 that sovereignty resides equally in all of us. Therefore no one has the power to determine the rights and lives of another.
This means no one group can just get up to target another group to call them derogatory names with messages that tantamount to practically seeking to wipe them out of society.
Ahmaddiya Muslims in The Gambia are citizens and are protected by the Constitution like all of us. The Constitution places an obligation on The Gambia Government to protect the rights of all citizens.
Therefore The Gambia Government cannot sit by silently to watch one group of citizens insult another group only on account of their faith. That tantamount to aiding and abetting violence! This is what The Gambia Government is committing right now by their silence and inaction contrary to their lawful obligations under Constitution and other laws of The Gambia!
Why is the President silent? Why are the ministers of Interior, Justice and religious affairs silent? Why is the IGP silent? Why?
There are no 2 religious sects in any religion that agree on everything. That’s why they are sects which presupposes difference. Hence one group cannot give itself the divine and absolute right and power to make itself the guardian of the faith.
The only reason why Chebbo Cham and Abdoulie Fatty are doing what they are doing is simply because they know they are in the majority and the Ahmaddiya are in the minority, and that The Gambia Government is so irresponsible and inept that it will not hold the majority accountable! That’s all. Injustice!
The Ahmaddiya have been in The Gambia since independence hence the idea that one will wipe them out of The Gambia is not only impossible but also more seriously it means calling for violence.
Abdoulie Fatty has already demonstrated his willingness and readiness to engage in violence when he said he will start to enrol in acquiring karate skills. For what?
How could an imam face believers to ask them to acquire physical fighting skills? In a democratic republic with a Constitution and a Government?
If Fatty were brave and knowledgeable enough, one would have expected that he would have asked to challenge the Emir of the Ahmaddiya to a respectable debate like how the late honourable Ahmed Deedat engaged Christian bishops into public debates about religion, with respect and civility.
That’s what a true imam would do and not to enrol in a karate learning school to become a fighter. Yet The Gambia Government refused to see the blatant incitement to violence in that statement.
What a sad country!
Yet the saddest part is to see ordinary citizens who claim to be Muslims engaged in insulting anyone who defends the rights of the Ahmaddiya. Is this the way the Holy Prophet would have advised or acted? Certainly not. Yet you claim to be a follower of that Great Human Being of Tolerance and Compassion!
The Ahmaddiya are in great pain right now. Nothing is more painful that to have your fellow human beings subject you to ridicule and insult just because of what you are and yet you cannot do anything about it. It is like being bullied by a bigger boy in front of your classmates and all you can do is to cry. Yet Gambians don’t want to see that pain of that fellow citizen just because you claim he is wrong because he is an Ahmaddiya! That’s painful. On top of that pain, the person that should stop the bullying in the first place stays mute as if he did not see the bullying!
The right that the Ahmaddiya have is the same right we all have. If a group or a person where to emerge today to insult the Sunni or Mouride or Shia or the Christians in The Gambia there’s no doubt that I, for one will condemn that too – regardless of what the bully thinks of himself or others!
Right now the Ahmaddiya are being bullied by Abdoulie Fatty and Chebbo Cham. As good citizens and if we have conscience we should not sit still to watch weaker ones being bullied. Thats not humanism! No Gambian citizen should be made little and scared just because of his or her belief and conscience.
Once again I call on The Gambia Government and the IGP in particular to hold Chebbo Cham and Abdoulie Fatty accountable for violating the rights and threatening the lives of the Ahmaddiya contrary to the Constitution and the Criminal Code and other local and international laws under which the Government has an obligation to protect rights.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Monitor’s editorial stance.