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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Al Baghdadi is not my caliph!

The Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims. The self-proclaimed “caliphate” is hardly likely to be recognised by the international community as any form of state. Nevertheless, jihadists take the caliphate within Syria and Iraq as a legitimate Islamic Republic with one leader—a military dictator. Based on confrontation and warfare, the caliphate has only one foreseeable raison d’être: ongoing conflict within the state system. The entire earth belongs to Muslims, its despotic leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said. On that basis he has called all Muslims to immigrate to his “Islamic State.”

How did this dangerous turn in Middle Eastern conflicts arise? Militias in the region are increasing. Likewise, political voids and civil wars have developed. And underpinning it all is a long history of military interventions by Western democracies. Russia, Europe and the West have been flooding the region with military apparel for decades. And more recently, sending US military trainers to conflict zones now seems practically protocol. In Iraq, current MPs are backed by militias. In Syria and Iraq, ISIS forces are empowered with abandoned US military equipment. Who knows how much strategy, bomb-making skills and basic fighting abilities have been gleaned and applied by sectarian forces in the region via Western interventions? One thing is clear, though. Today there exists an all-pervasive animus sweeping Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and beyond.

Needless to say, instead of developing political cohesion among tribal and sectarian schisms, sectarianism is rife. And today in Iraq and Syria, overcoming the “infidel” seems to be the only unifying direction of radical forces.

“Define the enemy and unite to fight the enemy” has seemed like a mantra at the heart of Western military training. That phrase seems to have resounded with jihadists. The language the jihadist would use, however, is “overcoming the infidel.” Is this not two sides of the same coin? What is an infidel if not a defined enemy? Instilling this idea of defining and uniting against the enemy into Iraqis and Afghanis by Western military trainers could quite logically have radicalised many latent sectarian forces into ISIS jihadists. Where has been the training in parliamentary discourse by Western democracies? Where have been the venues for political expression by all sectors of the community?

These so-called jihadists and extremists, with their ignorance regarding the divine concepts of Islam are leading innocent and simple-minded youth into performing un-Islamic and inhumane actions under the guise of jihad and a divine path to heaven.

I am a Gambian. I am a Muslim and I do not in any way, shape or form accept or regard Mr Al Baghdadi as my caliph.  

Saloum Jaiteh

University of The Gambia


A word of advice to President Bajo


Dear editor,

I have been following the recently settled fight for the presidency of the Gambia Football Federation with very keen interest. I am a young man who loves football. Therefore I, like hundreds of thousands of other Gambians – male and female, old and young – are major stakeholders in Gambian football.

I am first of all congratulating Mr Lamin Kaba Bajo on his election as president of the GFF. He fought a good campaign and won. I must also commend Mr Buba Bojang and Omar Danso for exercising their democratic rights by standing for elections and wanting a shot at the top job in the game in the country.

I believe the results are a fair expression of the sovereign wishes of the majority of the electors. Therefore, Mr Bojang and Mr Danso should bury the hatchet, pat each other on the back and be gracious enough by conceding defeat and pledging to support and work with Mr Bajo and his new team in the interest of the national game. Let them open a new page and move on.

I was particularly impressed with Omar Mbye Bojang. He was articulate and always said it as he saw it. I have heard commentators chiding him for being a carpenter. What is wrong with a carpenter wanting to run football? After all Jesus Christ, himself, one of the greatest teachers, was a carpenter and so was his ‘father’ joseph!  Carpenters know how to mend things and Gambian football was in dire need of mending! 

I am advising President Bajo to have the wisdom by recognising that he is a 50/50 candidate and therefore for him to succeed, he should reach out to the Bojang/Danso/Kinteh/Kebbeh camps. He should form an ‘all-inclusive’ government of football. He should not seek revenge or try to victimise people who did not support him. Even more importantly, President Bajo should think with his own head, see with his own eye and speak with his own tongue. Only then will he succeed.

The Bojang/Danso/Kinteh/Kebbeh campers should also desist from trying to undermine the good efforts of Mr Bajo and his new executive. Let us look at Gambian football and not the camps we belong to.


Yirikuntu Bojang



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